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Opinion
Palm Coast Monday, Apr. 10, 2017 1 year ago

Vacation rentals must be regulated locally

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The short-term rental companies do nothing to check their renters.

By Paul Pershes

Guest Writer

After reading the recent letter by the D’Amicos, I cannot understand how a cleaning company and especially its owners can make such factually incorrect statements. They are getting bad information.

First, cleaning companies enter the rental property after renters leave. How could they possibly know the number of renters unless informed by their customer, in this case, Vacation Rental Pros? The only scare tactics are those by the D’Amico and the people supporting them.

A little history is very important here. In 2011, the Florida Legislature passed a bill making short-term rentals effectively unrestricted. What happened? The growth of short-term rentals in single-family residential communities grew.

In my community of Ocean Hammock, which the D’Amicos referred to, occupancy levels went out of control. Every space that could be converted to a bedroom was — this included storage areas, and even a garage. Bunk beds (for four people) were put into small bedrooms to maximize occupancy.

The average occupancy in Flagler County is just over two people for each single family residence. In our community, short-term rental property occupancies were advertised as high as 25 — with no supervision or control if more came to the property. Parking, noise, garbage were out of hand. Full time residents were adversely affected.

Just picture living in your home with 25 people coming for vacation each week in the house next to you. The noise levels kept residents awake into the early morning.  

Something had to be done.

In 2014, our state Legislature gave the local community home rule to figure out how to properly monitor these rental properties.

First, the Flagler ordinance restricted occupancy in single-family homes to 14. There are no changes to condominiums from the 2014 law.

Second, the county did fire and safety inspections. I will point out that the largest short-term rental company insisted that all short-term rental properties they managed met Florida State fire and safety requirements.

Guess what! Eighty percent of the short-term rental properties on their inspections failed.

The D’Amicos mentioned there is 24-hour security. This is correct. What they failed to mention is that the community, Ocean Hammock, had to double its security from 12 hours per day to 24 hours per day to handle the increase in short term rentals, causing all owners, and those not renting, to pay extra.

The short-term rental companies do nothing to check their renters.

These short-term rental properties are businesses operating in a residential community. As important, these converted single-family residences that have unrestricted occupancy, are not built as a property handling these high occupancies. There are no building codes to deal with these extremely high occupancies.

When an owner of a property offers his property for short-term rental to the general vacationing public, they do not care about the rights of the full-time residents. Their right to quiet enjoyment and safety are ignored.

Flagler County commissioners and staff have worked especially well with the residents of the community. They are professional and caring.

The Flagler County ordinance has not eliminated short-term rentals in Flagler County, only set up reasonable occupancy levels, parking levels and enforced fire and safety rules.  

The Hammock Beach and Cinnamon Beach Association (Ocean Hammock Community) have their own set of Master Documents and rules and requirements, including those for short-term rentals.

Paul C. Pershes

President

Ocean Hammock Property Owners Association

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