NAPLES — More and more homeowners in Southwest Florida are dealing with short-term rentals causing problems in their neighborhood.
For one Naples man, that issue was on full display during this holiday weekend. Richard Clark has been living on a quiet street there for about the past 10 years, but he said that tranquility was disrupted over the weekend when some new renters moved in next door.
"Had to call the Sheriff’s Department three times within 24 hours just for noise during the day," said Clark.
He said renters like that are often the best case scenario, compared to some horror stories he has from the past.
"This past summer, someone hopped the fence I would say about nine o’clock at night. There’s several of them that just rode a dirt bike through my front yard. Complaining to people about their noise, I come out the next morning, my wife’s tire on her vehicle is flat," said Clark.
But Clark said, most of the time, there’s nothing deputies can do.
"The Sheriff’s Department has been supportive, but all they do is ask them to be quiet and bring down the noise. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t," said Clark.
Enforcing noise ordinances is really one of the only options for the City of Naples, and every other city in the State of Florida, because we learned they’re legally barred from regulating short-term rentals.
"The State of Florida has preempted municipalities from regulating rentals," said Erik Brechnitz, a City Council member on Marco Island. Brechnitz said short-term rentals are a big problem there as well. “The first year I was on City Council, I probably didn’t get more than 20 or 30 emails that entire year complaining about difficult renters. I get 30 a month now," said Brechnitz.
Brechnitz said, he understands people have a right to rent out their property, but he also thinks the State is going to have to do something to help people like Clark.
“I believe the State Legislature is going to have to revisit this," said Brechnitz.
"The control needs to be with the local people, because they’re the local taxpayers. They know what’s going on there. People in Tallahassee don’t know," said Clark.
A bill was filed in the State Senate last session by State Senator Manny Diaz that would have given localities the freedom to impose certain regulations on short-term rentals, but the bill died in the Rules Committee. That means it will not be discussed again until the legislature reconvenes in January.