On May 17 the city staff will present an update on short-term rentals to the City Council.
Throughout my campaign I promised that I would support the right of homeowners living in a Residential Single-Family (RSF) zone to use their properties for short-term rentals. I still support that right and do not want to create an ordinance that bans short term rentals in RSF Zones. Quite frankly, it would be against Florida Law to do so at this time.
Similarly, I support the rights of Condominium Associations to set more stringent rules regarding short-term rentals because by law they are allowed to do so.
Over the past 10 years I’ve lived in both a Condominium (San Marco Villas) and a home in a RSF zone on Marco Island. My wife and I understand that each offers different advantages and disadvantages, freedoms, and restrictions. Each also offers a different experience in terms of potential exposure to problem renters.
If you live in a condo on Marco Island, there are controls that take away some of your personal freedom in exchange for added protection against problem renters. Many residents choose to give up some of their personal freedom for the added security and protections inherent in condominium association rental by-laws. These range from rental frequency and duration to occupancy limits. I have identified twelve points that can be found in my full letter at coastalbreezenews.com.
If you live in a private home in a RSF zone, the controls are looser and add to your personal freedom to do what you wish with your property in terms of renting it. Many residents choose to give up some of the protections and controls afforded by condo living for the greater freedom of living in a single-family home. These range from no control on rental frequency and duration to no occupancy limit. Again, I have identified twelve points that can be found in my full letter online at coastalbreezenews.com.
Over the past year there has been increased attention given to problem renters and so-called “party-houses.” I am not going to dwell on the problems that some renters have created in the RSF zone. Numerous residents have aired their complaints at City Council Meetings and on social media.
I take these complaints seriously and have been waiting for the six-month follow-up on the recently overhauled Noise Ordinance to make a public statement regarding problem renters. What can and cannot be done to deal with problem renters?
What Cannot Be Done
The City of Marco Island cannot apply the same standards for Condominiums to homes in the RSF Zone. Condominiums are allowed to set stringent rules and regulations regarding rental units. The City cannot do that in the RSF Zone. In 2011, the Florida Legislature prohibited cities from regulating short-term vacation rentals. The law specifically states that a municipality cannot regulate the frequency or duration of vacation rentals. That means, the City of Marco Island cannot tell owners how often (frequency) or for how long (duration) they may rent their units, if in fact the City wanted to do so.
What Can Be Done
The City of Marco Island can use several strategies to manage the problems associated with short-term renters. Collectively these strategies represent a powerful tool that can help the city manage short-term rentals more effectively. These strategies do however infringe on many of the personal freedoms that residents in the RSF Zone hold dear. The strategies range from a registration requirement to a parking ordinance. More details can be found on the Coastal Breeze News website: coastalbreezenews.com.
Equal Treatment Under Law
State law mandates that implementation of any new codes related to rental units in the RSF Zone must be equally applied to non-rental units. In other words, all residents must be treated equally. If the City were to adopt new ordinances limiting occupancy or vehicles, they would also apply to all residents.
These are not easy decisions to make. Residents, the City Council, and the City Manager need to think long and hard about the implications of these decisions before taking any action that could lead to unintended consequences that would diminish the quality of life for all residents.