City officials have lowered the fees required to register vacation rentals here and reduced the annual renewal fees. The new fee schedule went into effect on Oct. 1.
Vacation rentals are surging in popularity across the nation as vacationers shy away from traditional hotels in search of better deals and accommodations that are more like home than a resort. But cities struggle to keep tabs on an ever-changing and sometimes tough to regulate class of rental properties.
Adjusting the fees is just one example of how cities are trying to figure out to best regulation and monitor these relatively new forms of residential rentals.
Wilton Manors City Council members in September lowered the registration fee from $750 to $500 and reduced the annual renewal fee to $300. Some vacation rental owners had complained the previous fees were too high and were deterring some owners from registering their properties.
Its new territory for the city, and keeping track of vacation rentals is a real challenge. The city has 61 registered vacation rentals but more than 300 vacation rentals pop up when you go to www.airbnb.com and choose “Wilton Manors” as a destination.
“I think the biggest concern is identifying the unregistered ones,” said City Council member Paul Rolli. “You can Google them but you can’t find out where they are.”
City council members amended the ordinance that regulates vacation rentals to include these changes:
- Defined “permanent residence” as “the place where a person has a true, fixed and permanent home and the principal establishment … to which, whenever absent, has the intention of returning.
- Requiredan emergency contact/responsible party placard to be mounted on a wall inside the front door.
- Set a cap of 20 for the number of persons allowed to gather at a vacation rental at one time.
Council member Gary Resnick wondered if the city could enforce any business restrictions in regard to vacation rentals. He wondered if someone rented a vacation rental and then tried selling medical marijuana from the vacation rental if there would be a problem.
The city’s legal counsel said such a scenario would be a violation of city code.
One city resident wondered why the city couldn’t issue registrations for a year, instead of only issuing registrations from Oct. 1 of one year to Sept. 30 of the next year and requiring all registrations to be renewed on Sept. 30, even if the vacation rental had just been registered in early August.
Vice Mayor Tom Green said he is opposed to vacation rentals in single family home neighborhoods.
“Duplexes, multi-family are fine,”Green said. “If people would just stay out of single family neighborhoods.”