Guest Commentary: What should the city do about short-term rentals?

Another controversial issue to hit our island community

Short-term rentals housing in single-family residential neighborhoods: As many of you know, a review of this issue began early in 2008, beginning with a City Council established rental housing committee whose recommendations were forwarded to the City’s Planning Board.

All the meetings of the rental housing committee were held in the evening (7 p.m.) in order that a greater number of residents would be able to attend and share their thoughts. The Planning Board currently is holding its final hearings on two draft versions of a proposed ordinance to address the problems which arise from a few irresponsible rental housing owners.

Through attendance of many meetings of the two city committees and receipt of many e-mails, I have concluded the following:

1. There definitely is a problem with some short-term rental houses where the owners do not properly ensure any care or common decency about neighboring homeowners; as a result, the neighbors have to live with constant annoyances and because of that, are even unable to sell their homes. Irresponsible owners make life miserable for many citizens. One noisy house can violate the peace and tranquility of all those who live nearby. My wife and I counted houses. If our home was a nuisance rental, it would impact at least a dozen of our neighbors’ homes because of the noise that reflects off the water.

2. On the other hand, the majority of those who rent their houses obviously do care, not only about their neighbors, but presumably about the condition of their rental houses, some of whom plan to ultimately move to Marco upon retirement.

3. In addition, we have property owners who invested in real estate with the ultimate purpose of resale, presumably with future profits in mind. But who are now in a bind as they are unable to sell their land investments to help pay for their mortgages. Renting is one solution for them.

So, what should the city do? Current regulations do not provide the city with adequate enforcement devices since all are aimed at the renters (in some cases as many as 20 college kids) who, after partying for two days and disturbing the lives of all within hearing, thumb their noses at any tickets the police or code enforcement officers may have issued as they drive out of town.

Therefore, the short-term rental housing committee came up with a solution to go after the owners of these “animal houses,” a solution to which the Planning Board agreed.

One requirement is for the owners (or their local representative) be available to deal with their renters should activities by the renters get out of hand (noise, nudity, profanity, etc.). Should these problems continue, after a certain number of violations of city codes by their renters, the rights of these owners to rent their houses could be withdrawn.

Hopefully, this solution will stop the nuisance rentals while preserving the right of responsible owners to earn money by renting their homes.

If you have any thoughts, ideas, or constructive comments about this, please e-mail me at ckiester@cityofmarcoisland.com.

I welcome any and all suggestions.

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Comments » 2

marcoislandres writes:

I own two rental homes and have never had a problem and the reason for that is my lease, it states that if the police are called 2 times for a disturbance the lease will be terminated and they will be asked to leave the property and forfeit all rental money. I have lost a few rentals because of my lease but I'm sure these are people who wanted to party and would have caused problems for my neighbors.
If all the vacation rentals on the island used a strong lease like mine I think it would solve the noise problem with renters.

happy6 writes:

chuck...ask wayne, he has all the answers. the city needs to enforce the laws on the books...for all citizens, not just renters...i have some neighbors that create havoc...like everyone does.
what about the people that "loan" their houses out for a week or two and these people raise hell?

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