BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) — Commissioners in Polk County are considering new guidelines to prevent parties at short-term rentals.
In September, investigators with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office say a deadly shooting occurred at an Airbnb on Robin Road in Davenport. According to deputies, they were called to the rental hours before the gunfire for complaints of loud noises and illegally parked cars during a 1-year-old’s birthday celebration.
“I still feel nervous because this is a nice neighborhood and I didn’t know there was parties allowed over here,” described one neighbor. “It’s designed for a vacation and for people to enjoy,” explained another homeowner, “if they want to have a party, go to a park, or rent a hall.”
Friday during a work session, Polk County commissioners discussed new regulations for short-term rentals. Proposed requirements include:
- The Land Development Division will begin work on re-implementing the requirements in the Land Development Code for short-term rentals to annually register with the Land Development Division
- The Code Enforcement Division will look into private providers to assist the County with tracking and registering short-term rentals;
- Sheriff’s Office will be reporting incidents that involve short-term rentals to Code Enforcement so they can investigate code violations for holding a special event without proper approval. If determined a code violation has occurred, a code action will be brought against the property owner, renter, and property management company which may result in a fine of up to $15,000
- The County Attorney’s Office will look into implementing additional regulations to require a property owner/property management company to validate the renter in person or virtually prior to renting the property.
County Attorney Randy Mink says, “One of the things we heard from the Sheriff’s Office is that they’re getting a lot of fraud. Someone steals a credit card or an I.D. and they rent it under it. Then, we can’t trace it back. We’re hoping this will put something in place where the property management can validate who is renting it before they issue the key or the code.”
The new requirements are an ongoing conversation for the commission. Several members expressed the desire to implement new regulations as quickly as possible. The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 7.