How Islamorada Reduced the Pressures on Long-Term Housing through More Efficient Enforcement of Short-Term Rentals Regulations

Substanial Time Savings for Code Enforcement Staff When Dealing with Short-tErm Rentals related Issues

Decrease in illegal short-term rentals being advertised in the community

manual steps to verify short-term rental properties have been eliminated 

Challenges

Islamorada is a small coastal resort community in Florida with a population of around 6,500 residents, which relies on tourism as one of the key pillars of their local economy. Islamorada is unique in that it has a disproportionately high number of illegal short-term vacation rental units. With 800 short-term vacation rental listings, it comprises a large part of their community, and straining the supply of affordable, long-term housing. Real estate in Islamorada is expensive due to the high demand, as the municipality is a tourist destination and has many affluent homeowners.

Due to this housing shortage, Islamorada has had regulations in place since 2006, requiring property owners to have a license and limit short-term vacation rentals to 28 days per a year. But the rising growth of online platforms like Airbnb has made enforcing these regulations increasingly more difficult. These illegal short-term vacation rentals have resulted in a reduced housing supply, and made it difficult for the Village of Islamorada to preserve the character and quality of its neighborhoods.  

One of Islamorada’s main challenges was identifying which hosts were violating the short-term vacation rental regulations. Staff would manually review all the listings on rental platform websites to check whether hosts had the required permit and were complying with local regulations. This required a lot of time consuming investigation which took up most of the code enforcement officers’ time.
 

Objectives

The Village of Islamorada wanted to eliminate illegal short-term vacation rentals to reduce the pressure on the local housing stock. They were also looking for ways to reduce the amount of time needed to monitor short-term vacation rentals, enforce their current regulations, and ensure compliance. Islamorada wanted to eliminate the side effects of illegal short-term vacation rentals, which included increased noise, trash and illegal parking. Officials had noted that when the number of illegal short-term vacation rentals increased, the number of complaints they received related to noise, trash and illegal parking also went up.

Solution

Islamorada chose Host Compliance to better enforce it's existing short-term rentals ordinance. Using Host Compliance, code enforcement officers no longer had to manually review hundreds of short-term vacation rentals on different websites. They also no longer needed to manually cross reference these listings with their municipal licensing records to identify illegal short-term vacation rentals. With Host Compliance they could simply log into a single website to access a consolidated overview of all of the listings in their municipality. Host Compliance makes it simple for code enforcement officers to verify licensing quickly and easily, and to take appropriate enforcement action for code violators.

According to Will Reyes, a Code Enforcement Officer with Islamorada, “What we found with Host Compliance is that they make that process a lot easier. Instead of having to go through the entire investigative process completely on our own, I can go to the website, type in a few things and there you go: you get the addresses of almost all the listings in the area, which saves an incredible amount of time.”

Host Compliance helps them find the addresses of illegal short-term vacation rental units almost instantly, which saves them considerable amounts of time. Now they simply log onto the Host Compliance website, look at the listings and verify if units are appropriately listed and have their license numbers included in their ads. Compliance monitoring and enforcement has become considerably faster and easier with Host Compliance.

Outcomes


Since adopting Host Compliance, the Village of Islamorada has seen a substantial decrease in the illegal advertisement and operation of short-term vacation rentals..

Staff have described Host Compliance as a “massive timesaver,” as it has reduced the time needed to search for short-term vacation rental violations and created more time for their code enforcement team to focus on other matters affecting the community. Code enforcement officers have been able to find and warn about 20 new short-term vacation rental listings in one day, for example, now that they have the tools to quickly identify code violators.

Will Reyes, Code Enforcement Officer with Islamorada, shared that “It helped cut down the time I was doing vacation rental investigations, and we did so well with them, that I was able to actually put that on the backburner for a while to deal with other issues that were taking up all my time.”

With fewer violations, they also receive fewer complaints about issues previously affecting their neighborhoods, such as issues with trash, parking, and noise -- and fewer complaints to attend to means happier residents and more time for the local government to focus on their community.