Q: In the Monday, Dec. 3, article you stated that it is legal, in Collier County, to rent rooms in your house short-term to tourists. Is that your opinion or is it based upon legal facts. If it is the latter, what are they? I was renting three rooms in my house to tourists and paying both the county and state taxes. Code enforcement cited me for operating a business in a residential zone. The Code Enforcement Board said I was in violation at the last hearing held in November. It is Code Enforcement's and the County Attorney's opinion that any rental for less than six months, i.e. transient rental, is a commercial enterprise and is not allowed in a residential zone. One board member actually stated that, since unrelated people were staying in my house on a transient basis, this was a multi-family use in a single-family residence. This is a dangerous precedent that was set. On one website alone, www.vacationrentalbyowner.com, I found 1,825 properties in Naples that are rented short-term. These properties were listed by the month, week and some showed daily rates. Are all of these operating illegally? Any help you can give me in this matter will be greatly appreciated.
— Bob R., Golden Gate Estates
A: Collier County Land Development Code does not permit residents to rent guest accommodations in single-family neighborhoods. My column published last Monday contained incorrect information regarding renting guesthouses and mother-in-law suites, said Jeff Letourneau, investigative supervisor for Collier County Code Enforcement.
"The guest house section (5.03.03) of the Collier County Land Development Code clearly states that it is a violation to rent or lease any guest accommodation in Collier County," Letourneau said.
Letourneau supplied the complete county code section, 5.03.03, regarding guest houses:
"Where a guest house is an allowable use, it shall be permitted only in compliance with the following standards.
A. No guest accommodation facility in a single-family residential district, whether a free-standing guest house or guest accommodations which are structurally integrated with the main dwelling, may be utilized for commercial purposes.
B. Leasing or renting a guest accommodation facility shall constitute a violation of this LDC.
C. If a main residence is leased or rented, a guest accommodation facility accessory to it may not be occupied by the property owner, since that would constitute the unlawful utilization of single-family zoned property for two-family dwelling purposes.
D. The following site design standards apply to all guest houses:
1. Minimum lot area shall be 43,560 square feet.
2. Minimum lot width shall be 105 feet.
3. The maximum floor area shall be 40 percent of the air-conditioned, enclosed living area (excluding garages, carports, patios, porches, utility areas, and the like) of the principal dwelling.
4. Detached guest houses shall not be closer than 20 feet to the principal dwelling.
E. A guesthouse may be constructed prior to a principal dwelling, provided the guest house meets the minimum requirements of a single-family residence in the district in which it is being constructed. At such time as a principal residence is constructed, then the floor area percentages listed above shall apply."
I made the mistake of assuming local rentals were OK when I came across this information on the Collier County Tax Collector's website, www.colliertax.com/ttax.html, regarding the tourist tax:
"Collier County Ordinance 2005-43 levies a 4 percent Tourist Development Tax on all rental income received from accommodations rented for six months or less.
"These include living quarters in hotels; apartment-hotels; motels; resort motels; rooming houses; tourist or trailer camps; cooperatively owned apartments; multiple-unit structures; mobile homes; trailers; single-family dwellings; beach houses; cottages; and condominiums."
Why is the tourist tax levied on the short-term rental of single-family dwellings, if they are not legal to rent in the first place? That information tripped up me, and undoubtedly also confused Bob in the Estates who said he was paying county and state taxes for renting three rooms in his home to tourists.
Park fitness center
Q: We belong to the county's Max Hasse gym. They did renovations to the gym and it was suppose to be done in September of this year. It is still not open and the staff says it is because the county hasn't completed their inspections. Do you know why the county can't get around to inspecting their own property?
— Max Hasse Gym member
A: The expansion of the Max Hasse Community Park Fitness Center is finally completed and is scheduled to reopen at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 10. The project encountered some construction delays due to site conditions and slight modifications with the original design, said Margie Hapke, a Collier County spokeswoman.
"We appreciate everyone's patience during the construction of the new fitness center and community room," Hapke said. "A grand opening for the new facility is being planned for January 2013."
Have a local question? Email it with your name and city of residence to email@example.com.
"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.