The disruption in the neighborhoods of Ponce Inlet where there are short-term renters has been going on for quite some time now.
Citizen complaints include more noise, more trash, rental properties ignoring the law, and cars coming and going at a nuisance level.
This is happening with both legal and illegal rental properties.
Not all renters are bad people, but the renters who cause the disruptions have gotten on the nerves of residents for far too long.
The Ponce Inlet Town Council has heard the complaints through the years and initiated steps to address them.
Some measures they have taken include instructing code-enforcement staff to vigorously enforce the rental ordinances and directing staff to speed up the hiring of a part-time, short-term rental-only code enforcement officer.
Travis Mincey was hired in December as a full-time, not part-time, employee. Earlier this year, Stephanie Gjessing was brought on board as an administrative assistant in the town’s code enforcement office.
The two new hires joined Code Compliance Manager David Hooker to enforce the law with the hope problems coming from legal and illegal rental properties will be alleviated.
They are backed by a rental property inspection program the Town Council created in January aimed at both residential and commercial properties.
As described by Ponce Inlet Mayor Lois Paritsky via email, the goal of the inspection program is “to help ensure that rental properties in Ponce Inlet are safe, properly maintained and in compliance with our building codes.”
How is the code enforcement triumvirate doing?
“In Ponce Inlet, we have taken a proactive approach,” said Mr. Hooker in his response to a series of emails.
He elaborated on that approach by describing a three-step process emphasizing education and communication.
“First, we introduced ourselves to the community by going door to door to each residence,” he said. “Second, when we identified a rental property that did not have an active permit, we reached out to the homeowner, and guided them towards compliance with our regulations. Lastly, we followed up with not just the homeowners, but also the tenants and any community member that had concerns about a rental property near them.”
So, has there been an increase in the number of code violators.
“Although we have discovered more un-permitted rentals,” Mr. Hooker said, “there hasn’t been an increase in cases brought before the code board.”
At a town hall meeting in February, Mr. Hooker estimated there were 100 rental properties Ponce Inlet wasn't aware of. The number as of June 15 was 113. The town has taken additional steps against any property owner who has not complied with code ordinances, such as the renting of a unit without a valid permit.
Ponce Inlet gives a property owner two to three weeks grace to be permitted. The majority of property owners will comply. If they don’t, a formal notice of violation is sent, and another two weeks is allowed for the owner to get the permit(s). If the owner still has not complied, the case is referred to the code enforcement board. If the board finds them in violation, the property owner will be fined as much as $250 per day and a $250 administration fee.
Trash and noise issues are handled as quickly as possible by contacting the property owner or management company. The town will work with property owners to remove loud renters. There have been instances where a loud renter was removed within hours of the town being notified.
Mr. Hooker views the effort as a partnership with the community and wants Ponce Inlet residents to know “if anyone has a concern about rental activity, please don’t hesitate to contact any member of our staff to discuss.”
For more information, visit ponce-inlet.org/165/Code-Enforcement/.