Mailbag: Condo owners oppose rental ordinance
Editor's note: Marco Island condominium owners and their association managements continue a letter-writing campaign aimed at the news media and the Marco Island City Council.
The condo owners argue that since their associations already have strict management plans in place, they should be allowed to opt out of city regulation in the proposed new ordinance aimed at controlling noise and other problems in short-term rentals.
What follows is an edited sampling of the letters. More will be posted as we receive them.
Sea Winds monitors rentals
The Sea Winds of Marco condominium has been providing weekly rentals to visitors to Marco Island for 35 years. We meet the health and safety regulations mandated by Florida statutes, the same regulations that apply to the Marriott and Hilton.
We have strong regulations to control renter behavior and prevent problems. As manager, I am on-call 24-7 to address any issues that come up during off hours. This is a very rare occurrence. During times of high traffic, we have special security staff. We already, by law, have fire inspections mandated by the DBPR. We also pay to inspect our fire extinguishers every year. The pool is inspected by the county and complies with all state regulations.
Every rental agent that brokers units at the Sea Winds is licensed by the state. The state and county have personnel to monitor the payment of the taxes levied on rentals. We have never had a complaint about parking or trash. We patrol the property along Collier and in front of the building along the beach to clean up trash.
Pam Barbarotto, property manager
Sea Winds of Marco
Cozumel opposes ordinance
As manager of Cozumel Condominium at Cape Marco, I would like to present our strong opposition to the proposed rental ordinance. Cozumel Condominium requires rentals to be minimum of 90 days, which instills a sense of ownership in our renters, many of whom return year after year and have never been a problem. Also most condominiums on Marco Island have in-house management companies to handle any problems that might occur day to day.
Also, most of our owners who rent their homes use the services of rental agencies on the island, which do a great job of registering with the state and county and fulfilling their responsibilities of collecting sales and/or tourist tax. Therefore, for the city to undertake further oversight on this would be a redundancy and unnecessary bureaucracy, adding to the burden of all.
All condominiums are required to meet fire inspections yearly, which includes inspecting all fire extinguishers, alarms, fire sprinkler systems and elevators in the building regularly. We request the proposed rental ordinance be stopped and continue with the current ordinances. Or, at the minimum, condominiums be excluded from this new ordinance.
Robert Nead, manager
Cozumel Condominium Association
Wedge into the heart
Having discovered Marco Island in 2006 we have been regular visitors from our home in England. As well as being a beautiful island it has always offered us a relaxing and peaceful environment where we feel welcome and safe. We have recently bought a condo here and along with other owners, renters and residents we want to keep it that way.
However, the proposals now being made seem overly bureaucratic and expensive in response to a relatively small and isolated problem that we have never encountered during our many stays on the island. In fact, if we had never visited Marco, the proposal paints a picture of an unruly place where the heavy hand of officialdom is needed to compensate for property owners who have insufficient interest in their environment to be trusted to look after it. We think that this is a very distorted and inaccurate view of owners, and of the condo associations and respected agents who take great care and pride in the upkeep of this wonderful island's way of life. The best communities grow and thrive because they have a common sense of purpose and ambition. Please be careful not to drive a wedge into the heart of this idyllic place.
Peter and Sue Woollard
City should solve real issues
Apples, oranges, lions and tigers and bears. What do they have in common? Everything, according to a few Marco Island City Council members proposing to once again reconsider condominiums in the proposed rental ordinance. Single-family detached homes and multi-unit condominiums. These are two different animals!
1) Condominiums have rules and regulations that effectively address, renter, guest and owner problems coupled with strong management that actively enforces those rules. Single-family homes have no such requirement.
2) Condominiums have legal obligations to have annual fire inspections. Single family homes do not.
3) Condominiums address their own parking and trash issues. Single-family homes?
In short, you cannot in all honesty compare a single-family home with a Florida condominium. They are not the same and as such it is extremely unfair to reconsider them in this ordinance. The fact is, condos were excluded from this ordinance at the last vote while there was decent representation by condo unit owners in season. Now this is being reconsidered after most of the condo owners have left for the season. This action only serves to severely tarnish the image of all city councilors and invoke the wrath of every condominium association on Marco Island.
There is no rational reason to include condominiums in this ordinance. In my opinion the city should use their resources to work on solving real issues instead of fabricated ones that end up costing thousands of Condominium unit owners needless fees and the associated administrative red tape.
Vice president, The Duchess Condominium Owners Association
Association has high standards
As a rental property owner and a taxpayer, I object to provisions and reconsideration of the proposed rental ordinance regarding condominiums. I own a property in South Seas Club managed by South Seas West Condominiums Association, which does a great job of maintaining high-level standards. As a rental property owner, I make sure that my renters carefully review the rules of our association and obey them. Renters are aware of fines as a result of violation of these rules. Because we are restricted to a 30-day consecutive rental period, we have never experienced any problems with complaints regarding our renters. The association implements rules of safety, fire, trash and nuisance problems. Regarding parking and vehicle registration, our association does an outstanding job and there is no need of additional government controls regarding this matter.
Any ordinance would be redundant and expensive to enforce. I, as an owner and taxpayer, do not want to be a victim of this example of bureaucracy. If the officials are not happy with certain issues, they should control that associations do a better job. Analyzing the situation, so many questions come to mind: What is the point of having associations then? Why do I have to register my unit with the city if I already registered with Florida Department of Revenue and with Collier County? Why do I have to pay more fees, including annual building and fire inspections to evaluate my property? How can I control that my renters do not violate city parking rules? The proposed system of fines is ridiculous! Why should an owner of a property be subjected to big fines and a civil citation for somebody else behavior? If this Rental Ordinance passes, many owners like me will reconsider renting their units.
This ordinance also puts into question whether the Marco Island City councilors that support it are interested in Marco Island remaining a popular tourist destination, which attracts high-level tourists, enables local businesses to prosper and brings more tax revenue to the local budget.
Erich de la Fuente
South Seas Club
Hold tenants accountable
If all Marco Island is really trying to do is eliminate unruly behavior of single-family weekly rentals then all they need to do is to communicate their expectations to these tenants and that they will hold them accountable for compliance.
This can done by having all landlords provide tenants with a copy of the city's specified rental rules, document their legal address, and get a signed agreement indicating receipt of the rules, a willingness to comply, or to pay fines and any collection fees. And, fine the landlord if they can't produce a signed agreement. Problem solved – no additional staff, no additional expenses, no advertising control, no designated contact just a distribution of information allowing easier enforcement of city codes. All the city would have to do is create an acceptable legal document for the landlords to provide and the police to enforce. However, this will not work if council's true object is to create more bureaucracy, mandate business practices, collect more taxes, drive out rentals and expose the city to legal challenges.