One group of 18 college students on spring break last week in a vacation home in Holmes Beach learned that partygoers who break city codes are not welcome.
Larry Chatt, the rental property manager for Island Real Estate and a driving force behind getting Anna Maria Island’s rental agents and owners to share and enforce strict rules for tenants, said he evicted 18 people from a home in the 200 block of 73rd Street for violating the terms of their lease.
Police were called in the early morning hours March 6 to the 73rd Street property, at which time the vacationers were told that the next incident would not result in a warning.
HBPD found 12 of the 18 people present at the home were 21 or older and had reason to believe the tenants were consuming alcoholic beverages.
Police warned the group about Florida’s Open House Party Law, which provides that the adults at any party or on any premises are legally liable for any underage drinking that occurs, and for any incidents after the party caused by minors who had been drinking.
Holmes Beach Police Lt. Dale Stephenson said, “technically,” the adults and the minors could have been arrested, but officers dealt with the situation by emptying all the alcohol found on the premises and advising the group to avoid further alcoholic consumption.
No loud noise after 10 p.m., a maximum number of people at the rental, and respect for the residential character of Holmes Beach are just a few of the conditions Island Real Estate tenants must abide by, Chatt said.
The on-duty rental agent for Island Real Estate was notified by police and responded to the scene. The agent later reported the incident to Chatt.
Later on March 6, the 73rd Street tenants were evicted.
Police also were called to a rental in the 200 block of 50th Street March 6 following a complaint of loud noise at the house.
The occupants, who said they are a singing group from North Carolina, and were practicing their vocals when police were called. The group’s captain, Maggie Sparling, told police they were sorry for the incident and would not practice again after 10 p.m. during their stay.
Ironically, Sparling said the group chose Holmes Beach for its “peaceful and quiet atmosphere.”
Chatt said the 50th Street group would get only one warning. Any other incidents there also would result in eviction.
Chatt said he was pleased with the police cooperation in both incidents. He said it proves that with the proper database, law enforcement officers know which rental company is the agent for the rental property and can contact them if any disturbance is reported.
“I am proud to be involved in the collaborative effort between Island Real Estate, Holmes Beach, and the Holmes Beach Police Department to enforce the quiet enjoyment of our neighborhoods,” Chatt said.
“An eviction is an example of an extreme case, but we often learn the most from extreme cases and this situation is no exception for myself or my team,” he said.
Chatt added that he hopes this example inspires other vacation rental agents and owners to get involved with “cooperative solutions to tough problems.”
Chatt, Mike Brinson and Anna Maria Commissioner SueLynn are preparing a guidebook for vacationers that includes a list of “best practices” the rental agent will use in any lease and provide the guidebook to vacationers.
Although Chatt, Brinson and many other rental agents already have the best practices in their rental agreements, Chatt hopes to have all Island agents agree to the practices, and involve law enforcement in any rental property incidents.
The two incidents are “an example that cooperation between property managers and the police will make a difference to find more balance in our residential communities,” he said.
SueLynn agreed it was unusual for a group of college students on spring break to come to Anna Maria Island, but partygoers who want to disrupt a residential neighborhood are “exactly the type of people we don’t want here.” She suggests partiers go to Panama City, Fort Lauderdale or some other spring break beach.
She said she hopes word of the eviction spreads quickly, although she doubted if any national media would pick up the story.
“These are the people we don’t want here and I applaud Larry and the other agents and owners who use the best practices for quick action. I hope the word gets out to spring-breakers and party people everywhere that they are not welcome on the Island unless they agree to our rules.”
Under Florida’s “Open House Party Law,” each adult at the premises where underage drinking has occurred could face a fine of up to $500 and 60 days in jail, if charged and convicted. The underage drinkers also could have been fined up to $500 each and given a maximum 60-day jail sentence upon conviction.