HOLMES BEACH – Neighbors of vacation rental homes in this Island city are seeing one of their worst fears coming to pass.
Owners of two vacation rental properties have filed a lawsuit and injunction against their neighbors over noise complaints those neighbors have made.
When the city adopted a noise ordinance to help combat issues arising from neighboring noise interrupting the “peaceful enjoyment” of property, some property owners feared that calling in complaints to police could result in retaliation.
That retaliation occurred on April 6 when vacation rental owners Shawn and Jennifer Kaleta filed a lawsuit and injunction against neighboring property owners Richard and Marjorie Motzer.
The lawsuit alleges stalking and tortious interference based on a log of calls concerning noise complaints.
In the lawsuit, the Kaletas’ attorney, Aaron Thomas, alleges that the Motzers made 42 “unfounded” noise complaints to the HBPD concerning the Kaletas’ vacation rental property at 302 55th St. from April to December 2017. As a result of the calls, one guest of the property was given a citation from the police. While most of the calls were made anonymously to the police, the lawsuit contends that all of the calls were made by the Motzers. The suit also claims the Motzers are “aggressive” toward the Kaletas and guests at the property.
The lawsuit states that due to an increased police presence at the property prompted by noise complaints, the Motzers are stalking guests by harassment. The suit requests a temporary injunction to prevent the Motzers from calling in noise complaints or approaching guests at the neighboring property.
A count for tortious interference also is included in the lawsuit, alleging the Motzers knowingly sought to damage the Kaletas’ business endeavors at the property by making “unfounded noise complaints with the Holmes Beach Police Department knowing that the police department would send an officer to the property to make contact with the property owners or guests currently staying at the property to inform them of the city’s code/ordinances and provide guests with a brochure detailing the city’s code/ordinances, regardless of whether a noise violation was found to exist.”
In this matter, the Kaletas are seeking an award of damages along with repayment of court costs and attorney’s fees.
In the petition for a temporary injunction against stalking and tortious interference, Thomas claims the Motzers have given the same treatment to another neighboring vacation rental property owned by the Kaletas, 5501 Holmes Blvd., calling in 24 noise complaints with no violations issued by HBPD officers. Again, the calls were primarily made anonymously, however, the injunction asserts that it was the Motzers who made calls to the HBPD to intentionally harass guests at the property and interfere in the Kaletas’ business relations.
“At this time I don’t want to say anything because we’re looking at litigation,” Richard Motzer said when asked for comment.
HBPD Chief Bill Tokajer said his officers would continue to respond to any complaints at the properties.
“We will always respond to calls for service,” he said. “That’s our job and we’ll continue to do so.”