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Vacation Rentals

February 5, 2017

 

Vacation Rentals in the Lakes neighborhood are an ongoing problem for residents. There are many unoccupied homes that are owned by absentee landlords that are now being rented on a daily basis. There is rarely any screening for these rentals so surrounding neighbors are suffering from illegal parking, loud noise and unruly behavior from strangers that do not know the laws of our City. In 2011 the State passed a law that prohibits local municipalties from outlawing this undesirable practice but cities can regulate these rentals.

 

The good news is that the City Commission passed on first reading a Vacation Rental Ordinance recently that will allow a permiting process for these houses that will include requirements such as inspections for fire and life safety, parking and noise regulations and penalties for violations. To read the ordinance, click here: ORDINANCE -FINAL - CHAPTER 131 VACATION RENTALS

 

To help these unfortunate residents affected by a vacation rental nearby, the HLCA has created a "Vacation Rental Information Document" that can be handed out to vacation or party renters that explains the laws and codes regarding noise and parking. See link below. Feel free to use this document if you have a vacation rental near your home.  Vacation Rental hand out

 

The following is an in depth review of this problem:

For a number of years now numerous single family homes in residentially zoned Hollywood neighborhoods have been converted to “hotel-style” rental facilities where daily and weekly rentals as well as parties, weddings and meeting events are occurring on a regular basis. As the Lakes neighborhood (and most other Hollywood residential neighborhoods) are currently zoned “RS – Single Family District”, converting a single family home into a “hotel” should be a violation of the City of Hollywood’s “Article 4: Schedule of District, Use and Setback Regulations – Zoning and Land Development Code.”

 

Hollywood has a long history of illegal conversions where single family homes are sub-divided into multiple rooms with the intention of renting these rooms by the week, month or year. In addition, many of the older homes, especially in the Hollywood Lakes neighborhood, were constructed with “out” buildings or separate garages that contained single room apartments or “In-law” suites. However, the “vacation rental” phenomenon is a relatively new problem and, although somewhat related to the illegal conversion, creates a much more serious issue for the neighborhoods.

 

Why? Clearly, renting your home on a daily or weekly basis introduces an undesirable transient element to a residential neighborhood. Unlike a hotel or apartment/condo building with on-site management, security and adequate parking, the “vacation rental” facility is an unsupervised situation where there is no guarantee that the rental agent or home owner has screened the renter nor are there any controls in place to limit the number of occupants and vehicles associated with a given rental event.

 

A good example of the abuses that can occur when a homeowner converts their home to a “vacation rental” is the situation at the very historic Young Mansion on Hollywood Blvd. This property was purchased in 2002 and restored to some degree by the current owners. The owners moved away in 2007 and made an effort to sell the property. At some point, the owners decided to convert the home into a “vacation rental” and party facility. Since then, this historically significant home has been the scene of spring break parties, bachelorette and bachelor parties (some lasting for three or four days) and weddings (see photos). The Young Mansion is advertised on the internet and has a dedicated rental agent. Daily rental rates are quoted on the website.

 

The vacation rental problem is not limited to just the Lakes neighborhood. There are “vacation rentals” in other Hollywood residential neighborhoods including Hollywood Hills, BoulevardHeights, Royal Poinciana and Highland Gardens as well as numerous other South Florida cities. All are advertised on one or more websites that specialize in “vacation rentals.”  Most of these advertised “vacation rentals” collect the 11% Broward County hotel tax and accept credit cards. Most also advertise the capability of accommodating multiple occupants (“sleeps 14” or “sleeps 12”). Most do not have occupational licenses and even a few are still listed as having a Homestead exemption.

 

The City of Hollywood must consider the legal ramifications of allowing an illegal “hotel” use in a residential zoned area when it comes to life safety issues. Have all of these “vacation rentals” met the necessary fire and safety requirements of a standard hotel or apartment building such as lighted exit signs, emergency evacuation paths, fire detection and suppression equipment, ADA compliance, etc.? 

In the past, the HLCA has been told by City Staff that uncovering illegal home conversions was difficult to do and even more difficult to prove as a homeowner could claim that his multiple tenants are just “family members.” With “vacation rentals”, this is no longer a valid excuse for inaction. Here, the intent and evidence is clear as these “vacation rentals” are advertised world wide on the internet. The citizens of Hollywood expect the City to enforce zoning and business rules and regulations when it comes to any commercial intrusion into the residential neighborhoods. The “vacation rental” problem is clearly, in our opinion, a violation of a number of City codes and ordinances.

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