Holmes Beach is cracking down on short-term rental violations.
At a July 31 code violation hearing, special magistrate Michael Connolly ruled that two rental properties with the same owner violated city codes by advertising and renting for a three-night minimum stay in a residential zone that limits rentals to a 30-night minimum stay.
Six of eight cases were continued to a hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.
The two cases heard by Connolly were cited for two alleged violations each at two properties on 28th Street, both owned by Anthony Properties Inc. of Tampa.
Stacy Dorsey, executive assistant to Anthony Properties owner John Anthony, asked July 31 for a continuance because Anthony was on vacation through Aug. 5.
Connolly did not grant the request, saying the hearing notice was posted July 2, providing Anthony enough time to seek continuance for a case already continued several times.
JT Thomas, code compliance supervisor, testified that the properties violated regulations for the R1 zoning district, where property owners are limited to a 30-night minimum stay.
Thomas said he posted the notice of violation May 23 and presented photographs of different vehicles coming and going from the property every few days.
Additionally, Nate Brown, the code officer who monitors vacation rental advertising, said the property owner advertised a three-night minimum stay for both properties, including on Airbnb.com, VRBO.com and FlipKey.com.
He said the properties were flagged by the websites as possible violators. He then investigated by attempting to book three-night stays at both properties, which he accomplished online until July 31.
Thomas said, for the property owner to be compliant, he needs to change minimum stay for the properties to 30 nights, and he recommended a fine of $127.24 for administrative costs and $100-$250 per day, at the judge’s discretion, from the date of the notification until the properties are brought into compliance.
Dorsey asked if friends and family can stay at the properties for less than 30 nights.
Thomas said, “Yes, but in the last two weeks, it seems like they have had a lot of friends and family coming weekly.”
Connolly determined Anthony Properties Inc. was guilty of violations for illegal advertising and renting for an illegal minimum stay.
He said the violations must be corrected by Aug. 7 and ordered the violator to pay $127.24 in administrative costs for each property. And, if the violations are not corrected by Aug. 7, a $250 fine per day for each property would commence Aug. 8 and continue until the city determines the properties are in compliance.
Connolly suggested Thomas check advertisements Aug. 7-8, as well as attempt to book a shorter stay and visit the properties to see if there is evidence of short-term rentals. If there is such evidence, the properties would be brought back to the Sept. 11 special magistrate hearing to begin the fee imposition.