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In the last meeting before elections, Wilton Manors commissioners did some fine-tuning to the city’s much-rehearsed vacation rentals ordinance.

In changes to chapter 10 of the city code, the commission agreed to grant an exemption from registering with the city if the owner of the vacation rentals resides on the property. Commissioners also lowered the age requirement for vacation rental customers from 25 to 21. 

The amendments were discussed for over an hour at the Oct. 25 meeting, which included testimony from attorneys, real estate groups and business owners. Christopher Mangi, co-owner of Solstice At Wilton, expressed concern regarding how his business would be designated. 

“We run a very community-friendly hotel resort vacation rental,” Mangi said. “We’re a little confused about how we’re going to be labeled going forward.”

Attorney Ryan Abrams of Fort Lauderdale argued on behalf of an anonymous client that a homesteaded property owner would incur an inordinate burden if required to register as a vacation rental with the city.

“The exemption definitely currently applies to my client,” Abrams told commissioners. “He bought the property when it applied. If it were to no longer apply and he would have to register, in my opinion that would be an inordinate burden and he would have a Bert Harris claim and I suspect there are many other property owners just like that.”

New registration fees for vacation rentals in Wilton Manors are $500. Renewals are $300 and a business tax receipt is also required. Rates for business tax receipts vary depending on the season.

City Attorney Kerry Ezrol said Abrams’ points were well taken and advised the commission to table the ordinance after discussion to be brought back at the Nov. 25 meeting.

“This is an important matter, we want to get it right,” Ezrol said. “I think this is all about the legislative process and listening to what people in the community have to say and at the end of the day we come up with a better ordinance that benefits the city and the community.”

During discussion, Commissioner Mike Bracchi supported the residency requirement as a solution to problem rentals. 

“When people live on the property, generally they take better care of the property than someone who doesn’t live on the property and maybe they have a management company and they’re not there all the time,” Bracchi said. 

The issue of age discrimination was raised by Nate Parsons of the Broward, Palm Beach and St. Lucie Realtors association. 

“There’s a big issue with the age requirement in my opinion,” Parsons told the commission, citing potential county, state and federal fair housing law violations.

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