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Fort Lauderdale Passes Vacation Rental Ordinance In Hopes Those Rowdy Parties Will Be Kept To A Minimum

The city of Fort Lauderdale is doing something about those wild house parties thrown by vacationers renting homes in residential neighborhoods.

Beginning Nov. 1, vacation rentals in Fort Lauderdale will be regulated by the city. The commission voted unanimously to approve the new ordinance Tuesday, but not without first compromising with rental owners.

Fort Lauderdale homeowners have been frustrated by the impact of vacation rentals on their neighborhoods, and on this, the city commission agreed.

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The vacation rental ordinance states that the commission found "certain transitory uses of residential property tend to affect the residential character of the community." 

When Gold Coast magazine publisher Bernard McCormick wrote about the issue in his McCormick Place blog, one neighbor described it as absurd “to allow a motel, which this clearly is, in a single-family residential neighborhood. They bring in five to eight people at a time, and then others come for parties.”

However, Florida has a state law that bans local government from prohibiting vacation rentals or regulating the length and frequency of stays. The key to enacting a Fort Lauderdale ordinance was addressing other issues, such as a cap on the number of renters staying in one home.

The state told the cities what they couldn't regulate, so Fort Lauderdale figured out what it could, City Manager Lee Feldman told the Sun Sentinel.

Property owners who rent out their homes to vacationers must now register with the city, pay registration fees and follow new regulations that include occupancy limits. 

The proposed ordinance called for a 10-person cap, but rental property owners argued that this number was arbitrary. (For example, a six-bedroom house can fit up to 14 guests, property owner Bill Waldbueser pointed out to the Sun Sentinel.) The city ordinance approved Tuesday instead allows up to two people per bedroom, plus two extra people who can sleep in a common area.

In their rental agreements, owners also need to advise vacationers of important information—such as city noise ordinances, the location of the nearest hospital, and days and times of trash pickup—and even provide a notice about sea turtle nesting season.

In addition, owners must designate a person who lives within 25 miles of the home to act as an emergency contact for any violation notices.

The hope is that the ordinance will mitigate vacation renters’ impacts, such as excessive noise and on-street parking.

(Image via Flickr/Daniel Dudek-Corrigan)

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