BY GARY M. SINGER
Question: A neighbor on our quiet street decided to make a motel out of his four-bedroom home. Now we have large groups staying there making noise at all hours and parking in front of other people’s houses. Is our neighbor allowed to do this? — Dan
Answer: No. It sounds like your neighbor started using his house for short-term rentals. These are usually arranged through certain websites and have become very popular in the last several years.
Although there is still some question about who can regulate short-term rentals and to what extent; there is no question that the renters have to follow the rules.
Rules concerning noise, trash, health, and safety apply equally to all properties in your community. If someone is out of line and will not respond appropriately to your polite request, you should go to your community association, city or the police, as the situation requires.
As with any other problem of this nature, have as many details as possible to include with your complaint. The more you give the authorities to work with, the better they can respond.
Short-term rentals are not an issue that is likely to go away any time soon. It has proven difficult to balance individual property owner’s right to use their property how they see fit with the rights of their neighbors to peacefully enjoy their homes.
The traditional zoning rules and local ordinances have proven inadequate to deal with this trend, and the law is always playing catch-up with new trends and technologies.
Our system has never had to deal with things like short-term rental websites instantly accessible to millions of people, self-driving cars, and drones flitting around airports and stadiums.
It takes time for the legal system to recognize the problem, and to figure out a fair way of dealing with it. That being said, the traditional legal values still apply: While you can try to do the best for yourself, you cannot do it in a way that damages others. At least not without repercussions.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.