April 10, 2019 – TALLAHASSEE, FL – Representing more than seven million Florida homeowners, parents and seniors cross Florida, members of the Our Neighborhoods Coalition gathered at the state Capitol today to urge state lawmakers to preserve localities’ power to protect communities from the negative impacts of short-term rental platforms like Airbnb.
Our Neighborhoods members shared with lawmakers and the media how the growing short-term rental industry has created safety concerns and diminished their quality of life, as more and more of their neighborhoods become de facto hotel districts filled with strangers who come and go. Airbnb has a long and troubling history of rentals being used for prostitution, drug trafficking, pornography, and rowdy parties, which have led to violence and an increasing level of unease in residential neighborhoods.
Proposed legislation, SB 824 and HB 987, would pre-empt the rights of local governments to regulate short-term rentals. But representatives of Our Neighborhoods, a newly-formed coalition of Florida leaders, child safety advocates, former law enforcement officials, parents, civic leaders, housing experts and homeowner association presidents, are urging legislators to let localities regulate the problems, which vary from community to community.
“Local residents should have a voice in the decisions that impact their individual communities, and our local officials should have the ability to bring those voices forward in enacting common-sense regulations that best fit the needs of their communities.” Ernie Bach, executive director of the Florida Silver Haired Legislature
“We purchased a townhome in Indian Harbour Beach, a nice, small residential town where my three children could roam freely. A developer has now built units that are effectively six mini-hotels in our neighborhood. We have had a revolving door of people come through in the past six months with disturbances: noise, vandalism, police called out, trash strewn everywhere, and recently having a porn movie being shot down the street. Now I am hesitant about letting my kids play outside in my one-street neighborhood.” Fenny Csaszar, Indian Harbour Beach
“We were blindsided when we discovered the house next to ours had been transformed into a commercial property that advertised the ‘experience’ of living in a historic neighborhood. As a result of the revolving door of literally hundreds of strangers we are anticipating (multiply up to six people 365 days a year), we no longer allow our children to play freely outside as they have been and should be able to do. We spoke to our kids about the new rules they have because of the stranger danger. They are ages 10 and younger and confused about how this could happen and uneasy to go outside.” Laurie Thakker, Jacksonville
“The house next door became a short-term rental but a more accurate term would be an ‘unattended hotel.’ There is constant turnover of people moving in and checking out using a pass code. There have been parking issues, late night noise and loud music, drugs, nudity, and encroachment on our property. We are living with real concerns regarding our security and property values.” Bonnie Sullivan, Indian Rocks Beach
“The neighbor’s property is being used as a short-term rental. Strangers come and go from the house at all hours, using the back yard to entertain. The disruption has gotten so bad, we recently had to erect an 8- foot privacy fence. A house opposite ours has also been turned into an Airbnb rental, which means more traffic and more strangers coming and going. We would have bought a property next to an actual hotel if we wanted to live like this.” Michael and Kimberly Aers, Tallahassee
“At least 20 states, including Florida, have enacted laws that prohibit certain sex offenders from living or staying within a specified distance of schools, daycare centers, parks and other places where children congregate. Right now, there is a short-term rental on Airbnb right next to my house which is 2-3 blocks from multiple schools. It should not be allowed in this neighborhood considering there is no way to properly ID or screen the people that are staying in these unregulated rentals. If Airbnb and homeowners are violating these laws they are putting children in great danger.” Donna Chase, Fort Lauderdale
These Our Neighborhoods members are not naïve or alone in their concerns.
Stacey Rumenap, President of Stop Child Predators and founder of Our Neighborhoods, said she founded the coalition to protect communities amid the new trend of commercial Airbnb hosts buying up residential homes and apartments to rent out as ‘illegal hotels.’
“With a revolving door of strangers coming and going from short-term rental properties, tools like sex offender lists are becoming obsolete — as there is no safeguard in place to stop a child predator from renting an Airbnb property next door. Home sharing sites like Airbnb have not done enough to combat the unacceptable actions of their hosts and guests. If they truly care about the surrounding communities and neighborhoods living next to their rentals, they need to step up and enforce safeguards to keep our children safe. Their current approach just isn’t working.”