INDIAN HARBOR BEACH, Florida. – Some homeowners are concerned that Airbnb and short-term vacation rentals are taking over the community.
The city of Indian Harbor Beach (IHB) is launching a new program to crack down on runaway property, but state law makes it difficult to manage the surge in demand.
In the IHB area, some homes have signs with a simple message: No Airbnb at IHB.
“We’re just trying to figure out what we can do to protect our homes and protect our children,” said Lee McElroy, who calls IHB her home and worries about the future of the small, friendly town.
She is not alone.
“They throw parties all the time. We have domestic fights going on until 5 am,” said Adam Dyer, who also lives at IHB. The father of four says three of the six houses near him are short-term.
Both of these homeowners say their streets are clogged with short-term rentals and cars are driving out onto the street, blocking sidewalks. On weekends and holidays, parties are held constantly.
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“They just come and go – one night here and the next night again and again,” Dyer added.
At a city council meeting on Tuesday, Indian Harbor Beach voted to implement a new surveillance program to track rents. The city can’t stop anymore. but they want to know where the houses are and make sure they work according to the code.
The new AI system costs about $30,000 a year and also comes with a 24/7 hotline that neighbors can call for real estate-related issues.
“If you live in a beautiful, quiet area, then all of a sudden another person appears on one or both sides of you three or four nights a week, your area has changed overnight,” said John Coffey, city manager. IHB.
He would like a common sense law to be passed to help cities alleviate these problems, but hopes this new program will bring some relief to taxpayers.
The city now estimates that there are over 200 vacation properties in the 2.5-square-mile city.
“Out of every 10 homes, three to four are now owned by Airbnb,” McElroy added.
Due to the uncertainty of not knowing who lives in the nearby houses, the Dyer family does not allow their children to walk past a nearby stop sign when they are playing outside. They say it’s disappointing because the close-knit element of the city was what motivated them to settle there.
“We need to bring back that sense of community because I think it’s worth fighting for,” he concluded.
These homeowners would like to see density restrictions to limit the number of single-family homes in an area that can be rented out. This will require a change in state law, so they are asking local legislators to get involved in this matter.