The future of rental property on Longboat Key
Longboat Key is one of a few Florida municipalities, fortunate enough to have a long standing set of codes and ordinances, limiting, and controlling to some degree, the use of residential property as rentals. However, the real estate industry is aggressively lobbying the Florida legislators to further curtail the ability of communities to limit the ill-effects on the communities caused by increasing short term rentals.
The real estate industry has discovered there is a lucrative market selling residential homes and condominiums to investors as income property.
I first started writing about the short term rental problem over six years ago, when I started asking property owners about rentals in their neighborhoods. I discovered that most residents I talked to were unhappy about the increasing number of short term rentals in their immediate community.
“With the rise of popular rental websites like Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) and AirBnB, making it easier to advertise and rent these properties, the number of properties used as short-term rentals in Florida has exponentially increased in the last four years. Second, as a result of this enormous growth in the rental market, the scope of the problem has changed and ordinances adopted before 2011 may no longer be effective.”
That is the case with Longboat Key. In spite of the town having the best of intentions for controlling illegal short term rentals, there is very little they can do legally. The town must establish a violation without infringing on the privacy rights of suspected renters, who are often told, and are willing, to say they are relatives, or something. Since many or our property owners are seasonal residents, there is a problem knowing when a property is even being occupied. In short, the town is faced with a difficult code enforcement situation, resulting in very few actions.
The long-term effects on neighborhoods and communities can be profound. If you talk to the steadily decreasing residential community in Bradenton Beach, they will tell you they are moving because there is no longer a sense of community, the number of tourists is many times more dense than when their street was inhabited by neighbors, that the traffic and late night noise have become intolerable. The residents are leaving. Too soon, what was once a unique friendly beach town will become only a tourist destination.
Longboat Key is a long way from becoming Bradenton Beach, or Holmes Beach with its dormitory houses. Yet we should not ignore our own short term rental challenges, and we do have a challenging situation with the real estate lobby in Tallahassee, working to create an even more attractive residential rental investment market.
So far, most of the condominium associations have been able to limit short term rentals. That does not mean that we could not see increasing inroads in our neighborly communities in the near future.
We need to encourage the town government to look at better ways of enforcing our short term rental codes. If you suspect that a house in your neighborhood is being rented illegally, inform the code enforcement staff about the situation. Think of ways we might prevent further increases in short term rental properties on the island.
In 2009 America saw an implosion in the housing industry. Millions of homes under water and far too many foreclosures, even on Longboat Key. The same sorts of risks still exist with rental property owners. If there is another economic downturn, there is little incentive for landlords to suffer loses, rather than take a business write-off and walk away, leaving derelict homes behind in our neighborhoods.