Got Your Panties in a Bunch Over Vacation Rentals?

NeighborMrsKravitzWhy is everyone so angry?

I found the following posted on Facebook by 95.5 the Rock, radio station, April 19th.  I have copied it word for word.  Click on the picture to go directly to the Facebook post or read below.

Screenshot_2015-06-29-18-57-37_resizedThis was in a mailbox in Arizona…how would you respond to something like this?

Dear “Neighbor”

You just moved into this neighborhood a year ago, and I wanted to give you time to correct this problem on your own, but you are apparently too inconsiderate to do so.  Every day this week, when weather has been nice and windows are open, you proceed to let your small child run free in your backyard and laugh and giggle and carry on without end.  This is very disruptive for my two dogs and my bird who sits next to the window and like to look into your yard.  Perhaps you could ask him to tone it down a bit, or at least limit his outside time to 15 – 20 mins a day so my dogs can be outside without seeing him running around.  If this kind of behavior persists, I WILL CALL THE POLICE!

Really???  I don’t remember there being so much anger twenty or thirty years ago … or is that just me?  I’ve been accused of wearing rose colored glasses a time or two.  But I remember a time when people were not so sensitive; when children’s laughter was a good thing, when live and let live prevailed.  If year-round neighbors cannot get along, there “isn’t a hope in hell” that vacation home owners can expect to get along with year-round neighbors.  This letter burns me up on so many levels, but it is a typical example of the nonsense complaints I hear from year-round neighbors.

Here are a few complaints that I’ve received …

A local resident called me to complain that the tenants in the vacation rental home next to his house let loose about six helium balloons … just let them fly off into the sky.  I told him that this was not a violation or against the law.  His response was that people do not behave like that in his neighborhood.  Turns out this tenant had rented the house to celebrate a sixth wedding anniversary and the six balloons released by their children represented six decades of marriage and a wish for many more years to come.  But people don’t behave that way in this neighborhood.  Shame on these tenants!

The next city over at another vacation rental property, the neighboring resident called to explain that two teens were throwing a football in the middle of the street.  The property is located on a quiet cul-de-sac and when I asked whether the teens were blocking traffic or being disrespectful in some way, the resident told me no, but he did not think it was appropriate behavior and once again I heard that people do not behave that way in his neighborhood.  I for one grew up throwing a football in the middle of the street and can think of about a million things I would not want to see a teen do … but throwing a football in the middle of the street is not one of them.  Shame on these teens!

originalI’ve received dozens of calls, days and night, reporting open garage doors and trash bins set by the curb on the wrong day.  These kind of calls are typically relayed with such over-the-top anger that it would humorous if the caller wasn’t so serious.  Really … an open garage door is cause for such agony?  I just don’t get it.  I live in a nice neighborhood and I see this kind of thing every single day and never would I think of complaining or reacting as if I was in fear for my life.  But if it’s a vacation rental … that is an entirely different story.

It’s just a small presentage of residents but they make a lot of noise … the vocal minority.  But why all the anger and hostility?

Why?  Sometimes we get legitimate complaints which should be reported.   Unless you live in the country with acres around your home, chances are, you’re going to have a “bad” neighbor at some time or another.  Unfortunately we can’t choose our neighbors.  There just isn’t any kind of interview process where you can “test drive” the neighborhood for compatibility prior to purchasing a home.  Sometimes you get a great friend; sometimes you get Mrs. Kravitz!  At least with a vacationing tenant, if you get a bad one, they’ll be out shortly … and most likely not return.  It doesn’t work that way with a year round renter or owner.  There have been many times in my life where I would have been greatful for a vacation renter rather than the person that lived on the other side of my back yard fence.  I’ve moved a lot and experienced way too many Mrs. Kravitz types.

Why?  Many neighbors are angry because they think that the owner of the vacation rental property is making a fortune.  I hear this a lot at HOA and City Council Meetings.  The neighbor finds the property listed on the internet, or “knows someone” who tells them how much they saw the property listed at per night.  They always take the nightly rate and multiply it by 365 nights!  Oh don’t we all just wish!!  Here in the desert we are lucky to get four months cumulative in rental bookings.  There are many factors that these residents are not considering.  A nightly rate is the highest cost … the longer the property is rented, the lower the rate.  Example:  $450 per night for 365 nights … $164,250.  I can assure you that that is just not happening.  More like two nights at $450 so that is $900 for the weekend, two to three weeks out of the month if they are lucky.  During season that same property rents for $6,000 per month … but like I’ve explained … it will not rent at $6,000 per month for twelve months.  Still the owner is lucky to get four months of bookings with a combination of nightly, weekly and monthly renters.  For a property that rents at $450 per night/$6,000 per month … it’s probably a property valued in the $400,000 to $600,000 range.  Now think of the carry costs.  Mortgage payment on a $600,00 home plus utilities including full cable, Wi-Fi and phones, electric, gas, water, trash, twice weekly pool service and once weekly gardening if it’s a home, HOA fees if it’s in a country club, cleaning, upkeep, etc.  Bottom line … owners are not making a living from their vacation rental home.  Chances are that the home is an investment towards their retirement waiting till the day they can move into the property.   Or it may be a vacation home that they use on and off throughout the year and they do vacation rentals to offset some of the costs of owning a vacation property.  Here in the desert … vacation rental homes are not huge money makers … our “season” is simply too short.  So why are the neighboring residents so angry at the thought of the owner making money?  Jealousy … I don’t think as much as … why should they make money and I have to put up with the bad behavior.  Like putting the trash bins out on the wrong day or hearing kids splash around in a pool that is not typically used … bad neighbor!

Why?  I have actually spoken to several residents who have no complaints about the tenants and in fact have made friends with many vacationers.  When I asked one particular resident why she stood with the group that did not like vacation rentals, she told me that her “neighbors” don’t like them and she was only trying to be supportive and not oppose these friends that she lives with year-round.  It’s what everyone says in the neighborhood, she told me.  When I pointed out that she rented properties from Vacation Rentals of the Desert each year around Thanksgiving for family overflow, and asked what she would do if a ban on short rentals was mandated she responded; I will just rent directly through a home owner and the HOA and city won’t know.  This is an inevitable truth … if short rentals are banned, owners will go underground and rent out their properties anyway.    A ban will not eliminate short term rentals … and these rentals will have no accountability, no regulation, no oversight, will not pay the transient occupancy tax to the city and are extremely difficult for authorities to prove, charge and stop.  I’ll give you an example of the “friendship effect” at yet another of the properties I manage.  Two neighbors approached me a couple of years ago and expressed great anger (hostility really), at the owner renting the property.  I will also note that the new owner remodeled the entire property and the home went from a run-down house with dead landscape to a show place home, which also improved the property values of the surrounding homes.  Anyway as I was saying, the neighbors were angry about rentals and said that they were going to complain to the city ordinance officers so much that the owner would have to sell the property.  They also shared that they had no problem complaining and often called city ordinance to report the lady who lived directly behind the vacation rental home.  Apparently she is an artist who played her music too loud when she was painting in her back yard.  I personally found this to be true on several of my visits to the property.  Some time went by and sure enough, I started getting calls … but from the tenants, not the city.  The neighbors were shouting across the back walls for the tenants to stop jumping in the pool and making noise.  Code Compliance was called and actually got after the neighbors, threatening to issue a fine for the nuisance calls they were making to the city.  I was at the property for one of these calls and the neighbors met me by my car … the two neighbors that originally approached me plus the lady who played her music too loud when she painted!  Guess they all found common ground in the “agonizing ordeal” of dealing with vacation renters and now her loud music was no longer the source of their anger!  Really???  Come on people … live and let live!

So … the city has their monthly City Council Meetings and the residents complain about vacation rentals.  So … the city throws more rules and regulations into the ordinance to quiet the residents.  In the long run, with more rules to violate this just gives the residents more reasons to call city ordinance.  So they write in another regulation instead of dealing with the source of the problem.

I think a better way of handling this problem would be to talk to local residents about the importance of vacation rentals and try to get a handle on all the exaggerated hostility.   Of course, rental owners and vacation rental companies should be included in these discussions since they will need to take responsibility by educating and monitoring tenants at their properties.   We need to defuse the “over-the-top” anger and work together because vacation rentals are a great source in bringing money to local businesses, jobs to all the various people needed to service these properties,  generate needed tax money for our cities and is great for tourism and real estate sales.

To residents I would say … most vacation renters are exactly like you and if the opportunity presented itself, would probably be good friends.  They are on a hard-earned vacation in our wonderful desert, pretty much the same as you were many years ago.  They may even fall in love with the area and buy a property; perhaps retire here, just like you.  Remember your own children jumping into the pool and splashing around, remember your family BBQs?  Most likely these folks are YOU … just some years ago.

I wish we could all get along together just enough to fix this situation … unfortunately this is happening everywhere.  So why are people so angry these days?  I guess it’s always been this way.  After all, it was over fifty years ago, in 1964 when Mrs. Kravitz first appeared on Bewitched.   I guess the better question would be … what “if” we could all get along and make this work?

3af380b7437c8dde1d2f6def5fa373Logo Vector Final 11-24-09

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