Anna Maria is tackling the problem of rowdy renters at rental properties before it worsens, basing a need for regulations on recent incidents in the city.
Taking a cue from Holmes Beach, where the issue arose about six months ago, Anna Maria Commissioner SueLynn and vacation rental agents Larry Chatt and Mike Brinson have been drawing up a code of best practices for rental agents and property managers. The agents would have renters sign an agreement to adhere to the code, and then use it to give violators an immediate boot, SueLynn said at the city commission’s Jan. 26 meeting.
But the rowdy behavior is not seen in 99 percent of renters who come to Anna Maria for a “family vacation” and “peaceful atmosphere,” SueLynn said.
Rental agents, such as Chatt and Brinson, say some problems are resulting from weddings and wedding-related parties in rented homes in traditionally residential neighborhoods.
It’s accompanied by owners who knowingly rent to partygoers, and a small group of rental agents who rent a home for a one-night event and “don’t care about Anna Maria and its residents,” she said.
With the advent of the Internet, it’s become easy for a property owner to rent his or her house to someone planning a party, SueLynn observed.
Property managers and rental agents don’t want that kind of business in Anna Maria, she said, and neither do residents.
Rental agents want to have a list of best practices and want the city’s seal of approval for using and enforcing those practices.
Under the list of best practices, wedding parties/receptions would need to be held at a commercial property, and agents would not knowingly rent a house for a party.
Some commissioners wanted immediate action, such as an ordinance that would create fines for the property manager or owner for a noise violation, but Commissioner John Quam suggested the city give the “best practices” code a chance.
Mike Coleman, who oversees several Anna Maria rentals, said he goes to the party where loud noise is occurring. He takes the keys away from the renter and tells them all to get out right away. Brinson and Chatt agreed they would do the same thing, as will other vacation rental managers.
With the word spreading around Anna Maria that the rental agents are giving loud parties the boot — including law enforcement backup — Quam said he believes late-night parties and loud noise after 10 p.m. will decline in the next three months.
Chatt said property managers on Anna Maria Island don’t want rowdy renters. They’d rather they go to Panama City or Fort Lauderdale, he said.
“We’re fighting to keep this Island special,” he said.
“The Island is a family destination,” Chatt said, and he, Brinson and others want it to remain that way. Just one loud, late-night party can ruin the Island’s reputation for happy vacationers.
Webb said Selby and Sgt. Dave Turner, head of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Anna Maria substation, are preparing an ordinance that would allow MCSO deputies to issue a citation to a loud party, much like a traffic citation.
SueLynn suggested commissioners meet with rental managers who want to adopt a code of best practices.
She said she’s also going to the resort tax office to get a list of property owners, including those who have not been paying the resort tax. If the city adopts a citation system for loud noise violations, the property owner or rental agent should pay the fine.
SueLynn said she hoped to “nail down” the list of best practices soon and bring it to a February commission meeting.
Commissioners also adopted a resolution opposing a bill presented in the Florida Legislature by state Sen. Michael Bennett (R-Bradenton) that would eliminate the license fee businesses and rental property owners pay cities. The Legislature has already adopted a statute that allows homeowners to rent their property, even for one night.
Selby noted the city does not have a business license, but would like to have the database such a fee would provide.