Anna Maria Commissioner SueLynn, working with Larry Chatt of Island Real Estate Inc. and Mike Brinson of AMI Accommodations Inc., has completed the list of “best practices” she hopes will be adopted by all rental agents and vacation property owners in Anna Maria and throughout the Island.
The list includes what Chatt first termed as “best practices,” saying the terms of Island vacation rental contracts should include what’s best for the property owners, managers and the community.
Brinson, Chatt and Mike Coleman of Pine Avenue Restoration, which also manages rentals, already follow the suggested practices and incorporate terms that provide options to correct potential problems before they arise.
The policies proposed for rental property owners and managers include:
• Provide a list of rental addresses to the city.
• Provide a semi-annual update of new and changed rental addresses to the city.
• Respond to complaint calls from citizens/deputies within a reasonable amount of time — 15-30 minutes.
• Work to resolve problems that arise at their properties, including three or less complaints about trash/garbage cans (filled or empty) in the rights of way; three or less complaints regarding pool noise, occupants, music, etc., and have three or less complaints about tenant parking.
• Have no inappropriate advertising, including words such as “party” or “great place for a wedding.”
• Agree not to promote the property for parties, weddings and receptions, or rent to such gatherings that would bring large groups of people into a residential neighborhood.
• Have no groups exceed the allowable occupancy limit per the lease agreement.
• Have no improper signage.
• Have no violations of turtle regulations.
• Agree to have properties registered as rental units with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and with the Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office.
• Agree to have all rental property agents licensed with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
• Pay applicable sales and tourist taxes.
• Personally hand a form to tenants that they are required to sign, acknowledging the guidelines for renting the property and that failure to abide by the regulations could result in eviction.
• Have a “hold harmless” clause from Florida statute Chapter 509 in their lease agreement that includes the sheriff’s deputies, as well as owners and agents.
SueLynn said many agents already provide a brochure to guests on how to have a great vacation while observing local laws and customs. She said there are some suggestions that may be appropriate to add to a rental agreement.
SueLynn suggested the following statements be included in any guidebook the rental agent/owner provides their tenants:
• Our city is a residential community. The lodging you occupy may be next door to someone who lives here year-round. This is their home. Please respect their privacy and consider their right to quiet throughout your stay.
Additionally in the guidebook, owners and agents should provide:
• Information about not holding large parties or large gatherings, including wedding receptions and family reunions in a residential neighborhood.
• Information about the maximum occupancy, including infants and children, for the rental and who will be staying at the unit.
• Identification of the number of vehicles in use by the tenant and how many vehicles will be on the property during the rental period.
• A suggestion that tenants walk, bicycle or ride the fare-free trolley to help reduce traffic on the Island.
• That renters agree to abide by all local ordinances regarding noise, parking and underage drinking.
• Information to renters about the zero-tolerance policy for noise complaints after 10 p.m. — and that the policy includes boom boxes and unusually loud noises during the day.
• Information that pets are prohibited on all Anna Maria Island beaches. Dogs must be on leashes when outdoors and their waste picked up and disposed of appropriately.
• Information that fireworks are illegal in Manatee County and not to discharge fireworks on the property, streets or beaches.
• A suggestion that renters turn off all outdoor lights by 10 p.m. year-round so as not to disturb the neighbors.
• Information that Manatee County has rules and regulations for nesting birds and sea turtles, and that no more than two of any living species of shell may be removed from the water daily.
• A form to be signed by the tenant, acknowledging having read the aforementioned regulations, noting that failure to abide by these regulations may result in eviction.
For visitors during turtle season (May 1-Oct. 31)
• Inform guests that outside and inside lights that illuminate the beach must be turned off during turtle nesting season.
• Ask guests not to touch turtles or disturb nests.
• Ask guests to remove furniture, sports equipment, chairs, umbrellas, tents and children’s toys from the beach at night.
• Note to guests that city code requires nothing can be stored or placed on the sand dunes or salt-resistant vegetation.
• Ask guests to fill in holes made by anyone digging on the beach. These can trap hatchlings and nesting turtles and prevent them from reaching the water.
SueLynn, in working with Chatt, Brinson and other rental agents, agreed these policies work best when everyone in the vacation rental industry has a spirit of cooperation with city and community needs.
SueLynn believes about 80-90 percent of Island rental agencies and vacation property owners already follow similar guidelines. Her goal is to have almost 100 percent participation and enforcement, but she and the other agents realize there always will be a few property owners who may not agree.
SueLynn again noted, it only takes one or two uncooperative or uninformed vacationers to spoil the Island and its hard-earned reputation as a family destination for vacationers seeking peace and quiet — along with friendly people and beautiful beaches.
She also praised Chatt for backing up his policies with actions.
Two weeks ago, Chatt evicted a group of 18 partygoers from a 73rd Street accommodation in Holmes Beach after three complaints were made one night to police that the group was excessively loud. The partiers reportedly told the Holmes Beach police officers who responded at the residence they were on spring break.
SueLynn hopes that by such actions, the word will spread quickly that Anna Maria Island is not a party destination.