Holmes Beach adds monthly rentals to VRC

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HOLMES BEACH – City commissioners may have dropped the business tax receipt requirement for residential rental homes and units, but they’re considering reclaiming some control by adding longer-term rentals to the vacation rental certificate program.

Under the city’s VRC program, short-term rentals, those rented for less than 30-day periods, typically seven days, are required to pay a fee and obtain a certificate to be posted at the rental property after passing an inspection from code compliance officers. Commissioners are moving forward an ordinance to add monthly rentals to that program as well.

Currently, vacation rentals must undergo an inspection and renewal of the rental certificate every two years. To lessen the blow to monthly rental property owners, Commissioner Carol Soustek, who owns a property that’s rented seasonally, suggested finding a way to make the program accessible to owners who may not make as much money from their properties as vacation rental owners. She said that with so few monthly rentals still available on the Island, she doesn’t want to push owners to move toward selling their properties or offering them as vacation rentals.

After a little back and forth between her fellow commissioners, Soustek suggested having monthly rental certificates renewed every three years instead of every two years.

Earlier in the evening, commissioners voted to approve an increase in cost for VRC initial inspections and renewals to $695. With monthly rentals included in the program, Mayor Judy Titsworth provided a cost analysis from city Treasurer Lori Hill that put those costs at $545 for monthly and vacation rentals.

City leaders estimate there are between 1,100 and 1,200 vacation rental properties and around 300 monthly rental properties in Holmes Beach. At $545, Hill estimated that the cost of the VRC program would be equal to the cost, $751,008 for two years.

Before commissioners move forward, they asked Titsworth to go back to Hill and make sure that the $545 fee could support the program with renewals for vacation rentals at two years and monthly rentals every three years.

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