Anna Maria code enforcement officers and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy Steve Ogline, who is assigned to the MCSO-Anna Maria substation, have begun targeting vacation rental owners for failure to have proper licenses or violating city codes.
One of the first properties targeted by Ogline is 211 Willow Ave., where the city has sent owners Alison Boak and Allan Weinstein a notice to bring the property into compliance by eliminating a downstairs living area.
Ogline, meanwhile, has been working to identify properties that lack a vacation rental license from the Florida Department of Business Regulation, and 211 Willow is on the list.
He contacted rental agent Jan Callaghan and informed her a DBPR license is needed for the property.
In his letter to Callaghan, Ogline says it has “nothing to do with any taxes that are to be paid for the home being used as a rental property. You will still need to comply with whatever that entails.”
He asked Callaghan to inform him when the proper application is sent to the DBPR or when the license is obtained. “That would be great,” he said.
The deputy stressed he is trying to cooperate with rental agents and homeowners, but he did copy his investigation report to Anna Maria code enforcement.
Ogline was given authority by Sgt. Dave Turner, head of the MCSO-Anna Maria substation, to seek out properties that do not have required state licenses.
On the code issues, building official Bob Welch said he usually gives owners 30 days to comply before re-inspecting the property.
If a property is still not up to code, Welch can issue a citation requiring an appearance before the city’s special magistrate.
Ogline and the city’s code enforcement officers are working separately but doing their best not to step on the other’s toes.
Ogline has 12 properties to investigate to determine if they have the required DBPR license, but he asked code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon if she’s had any contact with the DBPR regarding a license or if she’s been in touch with the property owner or rental agent.
“I wanted to run them by you first” to avoid any overlap, Ogline said in a memo.
Rathvon is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
Welch said one of the city code enforcement officers will check the list to determine if any complaints have been received about those particular properties, or if they violate any city code. Code enforcement will not be checking to see if the resort taxes or sales taxes are being paid.
The resort tax is the 5 percent charged on rentals in Manatee County of six months or less. The sales tax is the 6.5 percent charged on all rentals, regardless of length.
Sue Sinquefield of the Manatee County Tax Collector’s resort tax collections division said she could not give out the names of owners or managers not paying the resort or sales tax, but said code enforcement agencies would have such authorization.
Sinquefield said any property owner or rental agent out of compliance with payment of the resort tax would have to pay the past due money and possibly a fine. Additionally, the owner’s name would be given to the Florida Department of Revenue.
Anna Maria Commissioner SueLynn, who spearheaded the commission effort to find vacation rentals using the ground floor as a living area and to identify nuisance properties, said the cooperation is a “good first step” but there is long way to go.
“We welcome tourism. We just want to protect our old Florida atmosphere and ensure we can keep it for future generations,” she said.
An estimated 700 vacation rental properties are in Anna Maria. The database kept by Ogline and the code enforcement office has slightly more than 500 properties and owners listed, Rathvon has said.
Ogline has sent letters to owners of all the properties on his list. The list came from his database of Anna Maria property owners who list their home as a vacation rental, but apparently do not have a DBPR license.
The list of properties Ogline is investigating to determine if the owner or property manager holds the proper DBPR licenses are:
• 214 Palmetto Ave.
• 208 Palm Ave.
• 411 Alamanda Road.
• 227 Willow Ave.
• 10107 Gulf Drive
• 201-203 Elm Ave.
• 510 South Drive.
• 123 Hammock Road
• 314 Tarpon St.
• 798 North Shore Drive.
• 853 North Shore Drive.
• 211 Willow Ave.
• 11101 Gulf Drive and 11103 Gulf Drive. Ogline noted the owners applied for the wrong type of license and are amending their application.