Although we've gotten lots of pushback from the SRIA, we continue to pursue every avenue to stem the flood of "hometels" on Pensacola Beach. To that end, we've been trying to ascertain how many short term rentals are operating outside of their lease parameters. We started by working with the "Permanent Residents of Ensenada Quatro" group, who complained to the SRIA and insisted that they enforce the terms of the lease at 4 Ensenada Quatro, which require that the leaseholder use it as his permanent residence. Eventually after more than a year of providing the SRIA with data, signed statements, etc., the leaseholder was sued for violating the terms of his lease and and eventually settled for language that allows him to use his home as a vacation home or 2nd residence but does not allow short term rentals.
All of the original leases in the Santa Rosa Villas subdivision had two clauses that required that the leaseholder reside in his property. We've (residents of Ensenada Quatro) pulled and examined three more leases of homes that are short term rentals. Two of them were changed in the 1990's, which effectively removed the language requiring the residence, but the third still has the original language. We asked the SRIA to enforce the terms of that lease and they refused to do so until we provided them with months of data proving that the owner does not reside at the property. There are several more houses in the subdivision that are renting short-term, but the SRIA's attorney said that they will not take action on them unless there's a complaint with evidence.
Our question is WHY DO WE HAVE TO ENFORCE LEASES? Isn't that what the SRIA is supposed to do? And why do they not inform buyers that the lease requires them to live on the property full-time? The buyer at #4 had no idea when he made an offer that he couldn't do short-term rentals, and we've asked some of the other new neighbors if this requirement was disclosed prior to purchase of their homes and they said NO.
We're interested in pulling leases from other neighborhoods to see if they also have residency requirements.
We also want to discuss the powers that the SRIA has through the lease system to regulate the size and use of "homes" in the residential areas. We want SOMEONE to define what a single family home is. A 9 bedroom, 9 bath house with a commercial kitchen (or two) is in no way a home. The SRIA requires all plans to be approved by them IN ADDITION to the County. Let's put some requirements in place to stop future "hometels" from being built.
The other action I'm personally working on is to find the unauthorized rental agencies operating on the beach without commercial leases. The interesting fact is that the SRIA essentially punishes businesses that legitimately set up shop on the beach vs those that operate from Gulf Breeze, and this has already cost us tens of thousands of dollars in lost lease fees.
They also noted that two businesses are operating ON the island without commercial leases, and they confirmed that the leaseholders who are renting more than one property from their leasehold home are in violation as well.
Terry Preston - Government Affairs Committee Chair