Two weeks ago the Florida Senate Community Affairs Committee met in workshop to discuss short-term rentals across Florida, an issue that has bedeviled Flagler County since county government in 2013 and 2014 successfully led the way to a new state law that allows for a measure of local vacation-rental regulations, reversing a 2011 law that had abrogated those rights to the state. Ever since, the short-term rental industry has been pushing hard to reverse or amend the 2014 law.
The industry almost succeeded during the last legislative session, but efforts fell shorts. Those efforts have more momentum this year, again placing Flagler County officials at the forefront of the battle. The outcome will define short-term rental regulations for the foreseeable future. Home-owner associations are on the side of permitting, not abrogating, local regulation. Paul C. Pershes, president of the Ocean Hammock Property Owners Association, sent the following letter to members of the Community Affairs Committee ahead of the committee’s meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 24), when members are expected to “wrap-up,” as their agenda notes, the workshop on short-term rentals. The letter has been slightly edited for style.
By Paul C. Pershes
I represent the Ocean Hammock Property Owners Association, which numbers approximately 1100 homes and I would like senators to understand the problems we face in our community, and to make recommendations.
We are asking the Florida Legislature to:
1. Assure that homeowner associations continue to manage their communities under their contractual master documents.
2. Protect homeowners/residents living in communities zoned single family by limiting the occupancy in transient short term rentals. For example, Flagler County has an average household occupancy of 2.71. Short-term rental occupancy therefore should be tied to the average occupancy in Flagler. Five might be a reasonable limit.
3. Continue to enforce current laws that provide for home rule. It works in flagler County.
Now the details.
Excessive occupancy: When the 2011 law was passed–the law that forbade vacation-rental regulations by local governments–it allowed the unbridled expansion of short term rentals within single family communities. No matter what you heard or will hear, the citizens and voters of these communities never expected nor wanted short-term rentals with excessive occupancy.
In my community, where the homes have three to four bedrooms and a 2.5 person average occupancy, short term rental firms came in and converted all available space to bedrooms. The number of bedrooms grew to a level of 11 bedrooms and advertised occupancy up to 26 people in a single family home. These are not single-family short-term rentals. They are multi-family rentals. Just imagine living next to a property with 26 different people each week. The side effects of this unacceptable occupancy resulted in unacceptable noise levels, garbage, cars, traffic, etc. by a new group of renters every week. Yet these were only symptoms of the problem. Excessive occupancy by investor-owned homes filled by on-line reservation companies is the problem.
In 2014, a law was passed that allowed local governments to adopt ordinances to control short term rentals, including limits on occupancy (set at 10 people for any single rental). It is working in Flagler County. The County has worked with both sides and has come up with an ordinance that is working. The real culprits are the on-line short term rental reservation companies and investor mini-hotel properties. They are not the “mom and pop” properties. They are not properties with homestead exemptions. They are not owner occupied. The investor and on-line reservation companies try to maximize occupancy to maximize profits.
They told you they want to work with the community. But our experience is the opposite. In Flagler County, the largest company’s practices have been egregious in working against the community. They do not have any management locally to monitor occupancy and guest conduct. Most owners, unless they rent themselves, have no idea what is happening to the community or their house. Most of these owners never stay at these properties. They are pure investments. Greed is the problem. The investors and the on-line reservation companies do nothing to help the community.
Rebuttal to some workshop statements. Airbnb, HomeAway, VRPs – these companies are strictly on-line reservation businesses. They have grown at incredible rates at the expense of homesteaded homeowners who live and work in Florida and, I believe, also at the expense of the hotel industry. The 2014 law change did not slow them down. They suggest their short term rental properties blend in with the community. This is opposite to reality.
Property rights. I keep hearing about the property rights of property owners. I agree. Where are the property rights of a single family resident when a mini-hotel is converted or built next to them, especially when the occupancy is multiples of the average resident property next-door? If you want equal rights, then limit the number of renters in a property to an average occupancy of the community average or no more than, say, five people.
If the owner is staying at the property, then occupancy may be increased. The presence of the owner provides for proper property management and some automatic controls. We have these rules in our community and we treat everyone equally. This includes rules related to parking, noise, trash, and so on. It works.
Florida Statutes define “Transient Public Lodging Establishments” (TPLEs) as a property with more than three short term rentals a year. We do not want transient properties in a single-family community. Long term leases work fine since the occupancy is much less and the long-term renters tend to act as neighbors.
Homeowner associations (HOAs) are an important part of our community. They have rules and regulations to properly manage each community. Each owner reviews these rules and regulations when purchasing a property in the community and agrees to abide by them. These association rights must be maintained. They should not be overruled by the State.
Community abuses: Institute legislation that controls abuses. For example, limit fines–say 20 percent of the weekly rental rate. Counties can work with some frameworks provided by the state to prevent unreasonable, outlier fines and penalties. But don’t punish the majority for the transgressions of the few.
Full-time homestead residents are the backbone of our communities and of Florida. They are the volunteers in our schools, food banks, libraries, workers, and the voters. Don’t let the abuses of the short-term rentals continue to push these residents out. We need local homeowner association rules and local home rule.
Paul C. Pershes is president of the Ocean Hammock Property Owners Association. Reach him by email here.
Robert Lewis says
Help me understand this. People come to Florida and spend money to have a beach view. We like tourist, just not tourist living next to us? Our entire public beaches have been bought and sold by developers, so people like Mr. Perches can privatize our public land. They build a bridge and charge us tolls to keep us common folk out of the Hammock. I really think this is a double standard. Where are the rights of a property owner to rent out their home? If there is issues of nuisances such as loud music and disorderly conduct, call the sheriff.
This is from an advertised description of an investor-owned mini-hotel in my neighborhood. Does this sound like a “mom and pop” operation to you?
•Bedroom #1 (1 King)
•Bedroom #10 (1 King)
•Bedroom #11 (2 Twins)
•Bedroom #2 (1 King)
•Bedroom #3 (1 King)
•Bedroom #4 (1 King)
•Bedroom #5 (1 King, 1 Daybed)
•Bedroom #6 (1 King)
•Bedroom #7 (1 King, 1 Daybed)
•Bedroom #8 (1 King)
•Bedroom #9 (1 King)
•Extra Bedding (2 Sofa Sleepers)
As a property owner within the OHPOA, we are fortunate to have Mr. Pershes as our President defending our property rights and defending them against unbridled commercialization of a single family neighborhood. Thank you Paul.
Give in to investors operatad businesses. Money interest rules.
Democracy, individual’s rights?, ha, ha.
Wishful thinking says
A total violation and abuse of prorperty rights which are guaranteed to single family homeowners. Criminal in my opinion. We need to throw out every state rep who supports such property rape without exception. Greed and malfeasance is the answer I come up with. How about You? ₩
After reading this statement, I think the real issue is with the building department. If you don’t want 22 people in a house, don’t allow homes with 11 bedrooms to be built. Start an HOA and write a charter if you & your neighbors disapprove of someone renting out there home. As a homeowner, investment property owner and short term rental owner, I find this allegations to be ridiculous. Show me the police reports or formal complaints that have caused such terrible issues in your neighborhood. In my experience, we have had serious issues with long term renters as opposed to folks who want to come to Flagler or Volusia County to vacation. I once lost two different long term renters because the long term renters across the street had a constant flow of drug activity. I’ve also had a long term renter almost destroy my home. So I’d rather have a nice family stay for the weekend, and then be gone. We have not had one complaint, loud guest or bit of damage done by a visitor at our 4 properties. By the way, I’m a hardworking mom who volunteers and gives back to my community, as well as a person who has been able to repair & improve upon my properties (something long term rentals often do not do). I’ve employed countless workers, painters, cleaners, contractors and electricians.I send my guests to LOCAL businesses. I pay lots of taxes to be legit and the thought of more government control over my hard earned investments makes me sick. You also forget that these families come here to relax, spend money in our town, support our local economy which bolsters our tourism and enables many residents to make a living. Flagler visitors are mainly families on vacation, not the party animals you pretend are targeting this sleepy beach town. We are hardly Fort Lauderdale. Yes, you might have loud music or a big bbq once in a while, I have seen that with long term residents as well. My neighbor was loud, so I called her, she turned the music down, problem fixed. Not to mention, if there are significant complaints, sites like Airbnb and HomeAway kick these hosts off their sites. Can you do this with a long term problem neighbor? I wish that were so, we have one neighbor who is super annoying ;) All that being said, I think there is room for some regulation but what Mr. Pershes is suggesting is a bit of an overkill.
Oh whatever, boohoo paul ,not all of us home owners with associations want to be told what we can do with our homes, your examples are exaggerated and worse case only ,never would happen possibilities.
There are investors who don’t even live in the country (the one at the end of my street lives in England). Property managers manage the investor properties, and the property manager/house may receive terrible reviews, but since there are new people in the mini-hotel every week, nothing really changes.
Here’s an example from Yelp for the property manager (and owner of at least three rental houses in our community – many are hidden in LLCs): https://www.yelp.com/biz/vacation-rental-pros-ponte-vedra. Note the average is one star (you can’t give zero stars on Yelp – for 39 reviews). The company is not able to change these reviews.
No one is against tourists, of course. We just want communities zoned single-family where businesses are not allowed (such as mini-hotels built by investors) to remain that way.
Now look at this company’s OWN site, where the reviews can be “massaged”: https://www.vacationrentalpros.com/
Miraculously, everything is just about perfect, and 4/12 and 5 star ratings abound!
Before I moved to the palm coast area, I stayed with a group of friends in a large house in the hammock area for 5 days. There were 12 adults and 5 children visiting from areas throughout the state. We stayed and were respectful, visited the beach, spent money at restaurants and grocery stores. I can assure you the businesses we supported were happy to take our money. Because of that visit, I decided to move the area, start a successful business which now employs others who spend money in the area. The not in my neighborhood aspect of life here needs to change. Get over yourself Hammock HOA’s, if you don’t want rentals in your neighborhood only approve 2-3 bedroom homes, not 12 bedroom homes.
Renter Hater says
Robert and Dave
Perhaps you cant read or perhaps interpret what you read. Paul is not saying that a mom and pop should have their property rights infringed upon. He in fact is saying completely the opposite. It is the large on-line managed properties like Vacation Rental Pros, where the owner is not a resident of Flagler County that is the problem.
To FBLocal, you also have a comprehension issue. They are taking small 3-4 bedroom homes and illegally converting them into 10-11 bedroom homes. Perhaps I should buy the homes next door to you, convert them and have 26 motorcycle enthusiasts move in for a week or two.
This is real and not fabricated, and Hutson and Renner are out if they don’t wake up and smell the coffee.
A message to all our political representatives. Start representing your constituents. Once again Senator Steube is conducting a selective survey. He is not asking his constituents if they would like to live next door to a Transient Public Lodging Establishment Busniess that operates using a licensing agreement just like a hotel, motel or Bed and Breakfast.
These surveys are targeted. This is the brain child of HOMEAWAY, AIRBNB, VRBO, Florida Vacation Management Association, Florida Realators Association and The National Realators Association. All of these associations are attempting to destroy our neighborhoods in our state for their own profits. But none of them would ever live next door or purchase a home where these illegal hotel operations are being conducted for their own use. That also goes for some of the commentators above.
These vacation rentals in name only are not rentals. Each of these dwellings conduct transients operations on a daily basis just like a hotel, motel and B& B. Traditional rentals use rental or leasing agreements not licensing agreements. Our Legislature change the name of these dwellings back in 2011. To fool the general public. Our Legislature must stop treating these dwellings as homes! Prior to 2011 these dwellings where called Resort dwellings. Our legislature caused all of these issues with the help of Lobbyist Lori Killinger from the Florida Vacation Management Association. This over reach removed local home rule from our local municipalities that receive complaints directly from their constituents. But could not act on these complaints.
In addition to removing home rule they exempted vacation rentals from local property zoning laws. These zoning laws have been used for decades. These zoning laws protect our neighborhoods from incompatible uses. Our infustructures where develop and base on single family use. As the writer of this article states in his column the Ocean Hammock Community was built and constructed for occupancies of 2.5 people per household. A perfect example would be our water resources. The Dunes water district base water use on this 2.5 occupancy average. Each home was allocated 250 gallons per day or 7500 gallons in a thirty day period. But when the legislature pass the 2011 bill given these investors the go ahead to abuse our communities leaving these dwellings unregulated they started illegally converting dwellings by converting storage rooms, and garages that where originally constructed as three or four bedroom homes without county permits to 8 to 10 bedroom transient public lodging establishments. Occupancies where increased from two occupants to in the extreme cause of 26. Causing a water usage between 15,200 to 52,160 gallons of use per thirty days.
Our own Florida Fire Prevention code states that occupancies of 16 or more are classified as a hotel and should be use the same construction standards. But the legislature prevented our local municipalities from regulated these newly constructed dwellings under the guise that these dwellings where being constructed as single family homes. We had investors planing on building dwellings with occupancies exceeding 25. Not just one dwelling but 20 to 30 with up to 12 bedrooms each. These dwellings where being built for one purpose only. They where going to be used as hotels. The owners never intended to live in our communities. The investors do not give back, they only take.
No one is saying that you can not rent or lease your home. But it should be operate consistent with the homes in your neighborhood. A vacation rental operation is not a private property right. This operation is not a rental. It is a busniess operation. This right never existed until the legislature pass Senate bill 883 in 2011 and gave you unregulated access to our neighborhoods. By restricting our localities from enforcing property zoning laws or regulations. The only private property rights that where taken where the residents living in these communities prior to 2011. Each and every resident living in one of these communities should file a Burt Harris claim against the state.
The only reasonable solution is to repeal the 2011 Senate bill. Allow each local government should have the ability to decide where these transient business operations work in their communities. The State should stay out of local issues. What works in Miami may not work in Flagler. There issues are not Flagler issues.
REPEAL 2011 SENATE BILL 883 NOW!
Either you don’t really live in a community with a registered Property Owners Association, or you’re completely uniformed of the Covenants defining your community. Your Association (Covenants) already tells you what you can and can’t do with your property. I firmly support whatever you prefer to have occur in your community. That’s your business. However, I don’t appreciate you telling me what’s appropriate for my community. I have first hand knowledge of the short term rental issues that Ocean Hammock has experienced because I live there. Mr. Pershes is not, in the least, exaggerating. Nor is he saying that every person who vacations using a short term rental is disruptive. However, there have been a significant number occasions when renters have gotten out of control and disturbed the peace of full time residents.
The point of Mr. Pershes’ editorial was to point out that, as a homeowner, it is much more preferable to have local representatives (whom you elect and have influence over) determine local issues. I hope that you would agree that your vote is much more influential in a local election than in a State wide election. Personally, I prefer Home Rule to a State mandated one size fits all plan that lumps our single family home community in with the likes of Miami Beach or the area around the theme parks. Let us determine what works for us and they can determine what works for them.
It all depends on your local neighborhood zoning. Sing Family Residential, no short term rentals period. Single Family and Commercial, have at it. Research before you buy and make sure to attend zoning and planning meetings if they try to change it to become part of the discussion.
Steve Robinson says
As a Hammock resident, I quite often find myself in the middle of this debate. Friends whose opinions I value talk about the ways in which a proliferation of short-term rental houses alters the “character” of a neighborhood, and I get that. At the same time, the experience with a couple of these houses down the street has been the opposite of the horror stories that get tossed about with little evidence to back them up. Mostly they seem to host families and, occasionally, family reunions, which can indeed result in a lot of cars and a lot of people. As a couple of comments here have noted, if a weekend crowd is noisy, have a little patience as they’ll be gone Monday morning; if they are threatening or destructive, call the cops! My sense is the short-term houses here represent a sizable investment for the owners, and they have an incentive to keep the properties well-groomed to justify the rents they’re getting. Yes, it would be nice if all of our neighbors were, in fact, neighbors, but is that realistic in a beachside community?
Fed up says
This letter is absolutely right. We did not move to Flagler County investing our life savings into our retirement home only to have the neighbor who is only 15 feet away rent his house out lot be like a frat house. We love vacationers but rentals should not be in a neighborhood zoned single family residential. They are businesses, paying for licenses and bed taxes and needed to be in areas zoned for business.
Steve Robinson says
And, not to be argumentative, but in a genuine attempt to find some middle ground, I would like to see some statistics on calls to the Sheriff regarding noise, violence or vandalism related to short-term rentals, as well as numbers on how property values are affected, one way or the other, by the presence of short-term houses in a neighborhood. Again, my sense is that anecdotal accounts of nightmare renters are passed along the grapevine, without any fact-checking–but I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise.
This actually is a “global” problem. The Air BNB, VRBO and Vacation Rental Pros of this world have created an explosion in “tourist” short term rentals. While just in Madrid, our VRBO landlord showed us the license she was required to get and the taxes she had to pay.
Often, these are “commercial” enterprises in single family neighborhoods. Isn’t that a zoning violation? They need to be regulated just like bed & breakfasts, hotels and motels. There certainly needs to be regulations for fire safety. . . with occupancy limits, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc. etc. Just wait. . . the laws suits are waiting to happen!
Edith Campins says
So, Mr.Lewis you don’t mind that your taxes pay for the Sheriff and in essence you are the one paying when they get called out time and again, say maybe 15 times over the course of a week?
In response to Robert Lewis. Based on your comment, I’m pretty sure that you don’t have a clue as to what you’re talking about. Obviously, you aren’t aware that EVERYONE that lives in the Hammock has to pay the same toll as you “common folk”. The difference is that I have to come over the bridge to get home. You also don’t seem to know that the residents of the Hammock do not own the bridge. Another of your misunderstandings is that developers own the beaches. Not so. Flagler County beaches are easily accessible at every access road (for example, Jungle Hut, Malacompra and 16th Rd.). Maybe, you’re talking about access where there are no roads? As for the portion of your comment relating to property rights, if you’re ever fortunate enough to live in a deed restricted community, you’ll have a better understanding of what a restriction is. Until then, please allow our community to make our rules as we see fit.
Since permits were issued and the homes were built the county needs to mind their own business. They may have screwed up but that’s too bad. They knew the size of the home and allowed it….game over!
A lot of the the comments do not reflect the facts.
Fact 1, Local Property Zoning was removed by the state in 2011. Local municipalities could not prohibit transient public lodging establishment busniesses if they where license as a vacation rental. Note that all others are not permitted to operate in single family zoning.
Fact 2. Why do State politians still treat vacation rentals the same as residential single family dwellings? When they are in fact a busniess, they require commercial insurance, have check in and check out times, operate under a state busniess license, must conform to higher standards in the Florida Fire code, must collect a Bed or occupancy tax, maintain a record of transient stays, provide amenities, provide a cleaning service, charge visitors for stays and advertised on internet sites for daily use.
A vacation rental is no different than a one family dwelling license as a bed and breakfast. But a B&B is not treated as a single family home once it is license by the state. So why do vacation rentals get a pass? Because our politicians in Tallahassee are receiving money for their re-election campaigns from these billion dollar companies.
Fact 3. In 2011 when the legislature over reach their authority by passing Senate bill 883 they gave investors unregulated access to our neighborhoods. Where some retired and built their dream home, where our children grow up and play or where families moved to for a better life. Our county did not have regulations in place along with many other municipalities. This prevented them from inspecting these dwellings for life safety, prevented our inspectors from entering the structure when these investors conducted illegal alterations of the dwelling because our legislature failed to reclassify these dwellings from one family to vacation rental business.
Why are B&B’s required to change their certificate of Occupancy to reflect its new use? Because this single family dwelling is now a state license transient public lodging establishment busniess just like a vacation rental.
Fact 4. Even with these new ordinances in place the vacation industry busniess has thriving. So why change the law back? We now have safer transient public lodginging establishment dwellings due to inspection requirements, occupancy is under controlled, the county is able to control what type of dwelling will be built in our neighborhoods once again. So what’s the problem other than greed.
Fact 5. The solution to this problem is to introduce a bill to repeal the 2011 Senate Bill 883. Prior to this bill there where really no concerns in our neighborhoods. But the vacation industry does not want our municipalities to have authority to shut down bad behavior. There is plenty of that happening across our country. Just google stop AIRBNB from destroying our neighborhoods.
Fact 6. Why would our State legislature want to remove legal authority from gated communities? I will tell you why. These investors during the housing down turn decided to scoop up as many homes as possible and convert them to transient public lodging establishments. Changing the dwellings occupancy from 2 to 26 by illegally adding rooms. In turn forcing residents out of the community and reducing the property values of our homes. This allowed them to accumulate enough voting rights to change the community documents. This was attempted in Ocean Hammock but our community fought and won. Now the investors are crying fowl. Now they are encouraging our legislature to remove the protection from all condo associations and all-homeowners association. Because they lost in our courts.
There was a bill submitted just last year but never made it though Committee.
Fact 7. When you have these vacation dwellings operating right next door to your single family home who are your buyers? Would you buy a home to live in next door to a transient public lodging establishment? I think not! Do you really believe that beach communities are only for transient operations? Who’s private property rights where taken after July 1 2011? All homestead residents of Florida that lived in municipalities that did not have ordinances or the proper zoning protections in place.
Fact 8. An owner of a vacation rental never had the right to operate a busniess in single family neighborhoods prior to July 1, 2011. This right of abuse was given to them by our state legislature. Why did our Governor ever sign this one sided bill? Was he keep in the dark? I keep hearing that he believes in Home Rule.
It is time to get our legislature to introduce a bill and repeal the 2012 Senate bill 883 Now!
Excellent points Facts! While we do not personally have “Mc Mansions” . . . that can be converted into small hotels. . . in our immediate neighborhood, I certainly feel the state legislature needs to step up and clarify, in detail, the regulations for short termed rental properties.
There is a vast “loop hole” being exploited by the hundreds of “commercial on-line” rental companies like Air BNB and VRBO. . . companies who often don’t even have “brick and mortar” offices.. These rentals often skirt safety regulations and taxes required by Bed & Breakfast/hotel/motels. They take NO true responsibilities for vetting landlords or tenants, save reviews that are often white washed. The owners of the premises are often absentee, and could care less about the disruption to the community.
Renner and Hutson have obviously been “highly influenced” by these kinds of companies. Call them today! If they don’t support you. . . vote them out!
Bill Rogers says
Here are some facts:
1. The home in the photo belongs to me.
2. Our family lived in it full-time for 12 years, and rented it for 5 after we moved…..both short-term and long-term.
3. We were the first full-time residents of Ocean Hammock. Therefore, any homeowner making comments moved in after us.
4. Our deed states that we can rent our home as often as we would like…..for as little as 1 night at the time.
5. The home beside us was rented on a short-term basis for 7 years while we lived there. Never once did we have have any type of problem because of it. To the contrary, we met a number of nice families from there on the beach.
6. To my knowledge, never once has anyone from law enforcement been called due to any problem at our home, or any other home being rented on our street. And, as a matter of fact, I sent letters to our neighbors when we moved asking them to let me know if they had any problems whatsoever.
7. If you can look closely enough at the photo of our home in this article (I have a 42-inch computer screen), it appears that all of the cars in it have Florida tags. This may well have been taken while we were in the home having a birthday party for one of our children because several of the vehicles look familiar.
8. Plus, suppose the vehicles were those of renters, what is it about them that would bother a normal person?
9. Our home was independently appraised shortly before the jury rigging took place to somehow allow the Ocean Hammock Board to lower the number of votes needed to change the rules on short-term rentals from 2/3rds of the property owners, to 2/3rds of those who voted. (Of course those planning to vote “no” to ST rentals conjured up this scheme in advance, while those in favor of short-term rentals were not told anything about it.)
10. It was also appraised 3.5 years after the edict from the board. As can be evidenced by the photos from the appraisal company, our home was in excellent condition both times. However, IT APPRAISED FOR 41.33% OF ITS VALUE FROM 3.5 YEARS EARLIER……IN OTHER WORDS, ITS VALUE WENT DOWN BY ALMOST 60% FOLLOWING THE CHANGE IN SHORT-TERM RENTAL RULES.
11. I responded to this article because a number of friends in Ocean Hammock sent it to me knowing of exaggerations, untruths, and unethical behavior from others; but will not read or write anything further. Believe whom you will, just be ready for sticker shock if you ever attempt to sell your property with restrictions such as those in Ocean Hammock.