Vacation rental next door a neighbor no one could want

Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post

By Mark S. Horne

Published May 12, 2016


After reading all the reporting on sober homes (“Sober home invasion,” May 1), another item that is being completely ignored by residents is the growing issue of vacation rental properties. The home next door to me was purchased by a Boca Raton resident, to be used as a daily rental.

I sent emails to the Lake Worth City Commission and mayor, to inquire about the city’s position on such issues, and received only two responses: from Commissioners Christopher McVoy and Ryan Maier. Not surprisingly, the other three did not respond. I do not always agree with the two respondents, but they always respond.

I then met with the city clerk and spoke with the Code Enforcement Department, and learned that Florida passed Statute 509 in 2012 — limiting local ordinances from placing any restrictions on these properties, i.e., the number of times per calendar year that they can be rented.

What I learned about Lake Worth city leadership is that they do not have a clear understanding on this, though there seems to be some chatter regarding sober homes.

What’s missing in this discussion is one simple point. These operations are businesses, period, operating in residential neighborhoods. I have run a business in Lake Worth for over 20 years, and I would not be permitted to run my business out of my home, with customers coming and going.

How this statute was designed and implemented without this single consideration is beyond comprehension. Even condo associations have limits to the number of times a unit can be rented on an annual basis.

Not to mention, if you are housing overnight “guests,” what about licensing, insurance, permits, inspections for fire safety, handicapped accessibility, etc.? These are all things that I, as a business owner, must do. And how about these folks paying bed taxes?

I’ve owned my home for nearly 20 years, and now I have a turnstile next door. I see it as a devaluation of my home. If a person wishes to run a business, then buy property that is zoned for business, period.

These folks came up to Lake Worth, bought a house at a bargain, and turned it into a cash cow that sleeps eight. Perhaps when someone buys the adjacent property to theirs in Boca Raton, they might then understand how their “invasion” has impacted our stable block.

If I were to try to sell, who would knowingly buy next door to a vacation rental? Unless of course, the buyer planned to turn my home into another rental. My new “neighbor” installed a privacy fence that looks like it was built by a third-grader.

Another neighbor called Code Enforcement. It’s clear I am not alone in my disgust.

There must be a way to rid our neighborhoods, zoned as single-family homes, of this invasion. Statutes were created to be amended. Where is our city “leadership”?