Short-term vacation rentals exploding in Florida, infuriating neighbors

LARGO, Fla. -- People across Florida are complaining about rowdy short-term renters ruining the peace in their neighborhoods, and because of rules passed by leaders in Tallahassee, local city and county leaders can’t do a thing to stop it. 

Short-term rentals are popping up across Florida, even in quiet residential neighborhoods like Kent Place in Largo. Homeowners near the home at 2401 Margolin Lane say they worked hard all their lives to buy a home in the one of the nicest neighborhoods in Largo, and now, their dreams are being crushed by loud and disruptive renters. The 5,000 square foot, 1.8 million dollar home is rented out by the night in their subdivision. An online ad advertises it can sleep up to 20 people allowing renters to “live like a rock star.”

Randy Mears says recently the home on Margolin Lane had an entire 20 person basketball team staying inside. Mears ended up having to call the Largo Police Department after he asked someone to step off his property and one of the renters threatened to grab his gun. “He yelled he was going to grab his gun and take care of me,” Mears explained. “That’s my life. They lease this home every weekend to a new group of 20 people and it becomes a ruckus.” Mears says one group of renters even shot a music video at the home, blasting rap music on loud speakers with trailers full of production teams. 

Largo leaders are angry that they can’t step in to help. Commissioner Curtis Holmes explains that the city had rules prohibiting anyone from renting out a private home for less than 6 months at a time. However, the state legislature overturned city’s power to regulate vacation rentals. Now, residents and city leaders are blasting state lawmakers with emails begging them to go back to allowing cities to make their own rules. 

“Once again our neighborhood and local law enforcement are being held hostage to the whims of the Tallahassee legislators who think they know what is best for our neighborhood and local community,” nearby homeowner Roberta Hosken explained.

Meanwhile, Airbnb is exploding in Pinellas Co. and across Florida making the problem worse for people living next to rowdy rentals. Homeowners in Pinellas County raked in 24.5 million using Airbnb last year. In 2017, Pinellas County hosted 140,200 Airbnb guests, Polk Co. hosted 101,600 guests and homeowners made $10.5 million according to Airbnb. Hillsborough County hosted 78,700 guests and homeowners made $10.4 million, and Sarasota County hosted 67,100 people and raked in $13.2 million. 

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