By Tim O’Meilia
The owners of single family homes for rent in Ocean Ridge may soon have to register with Town Hall, perhaps triggering annual fire and housing inspections.
Town commissioners said they want to discourage the use of homes as short-term hotels in single family neighborhoods, a practice that annoys neighbors.
Current town ordinances allow homes to be rented for a minimum of 30 days and forbid homes from being occupied by more than five unrelated persons.
“It’s more of an enforcement issue,” said Commissioner Zoanne Hennigan at the April 1 Town Commission meeting. “I’m not sure what else we can do. Read the newspaper [ads], listen to the neighbors and enforce the 30-day rule.”
Police Chief Chris Yannuzzi said police dealt with 14 complaints in March, although most of them were at a single address.
“You can read the newspaper and see that people are renting for less than 30 days,” said Mayor Geoffrey Pugh.
Commissioners asked Town Attorney Ken Spillias to draw up a proposed ordinance after he asked for further direction resulting from a discussion in March.
The commission will have to decide later whether a fee will accompany the registration and how steep the fine may be for a violation. Spillias said a violation could lead to a fine and a failure to pay the fine could lead to a criminal misdemeanor and, finally, a court injunction.
The new regulation would not apply to multifamily buildings, including apartments or condominiums.
Spillias said other towns, such as Delray Beach and Hypoluxo, have grappled with regulating short-term rentals at great expense. Some have required inspections, issued decals to cars and asked for owners to supply copies of leases.
“The staff you have now would not be able to deal with that kind of system,” Spillias said.
Delray Beach, in particular, has had an ongoing discussion over drug rehabilitation halfway houses in residential areas.
Spillias said that the experience of other towns has shown that the most effective enforcement mechanism is the complaints by neighbors.
In other business, Commissioner Lynn Allison was sworn in for another three-year term. She was unopposed in the March election.
Commissioners unanimously chose Pugh as mayor for another year. Allison was selected as vice mayor.
By Tim O’Meilia