Clearwater Beach Florida | Home Owners Battle Rental Home Owners
The Good: For years now snow birds and others could rent their Clearwater Beach luxury homes out.
Home owners were usually renting their homes for a week at a time when they weren’t using them, particularly on North Clearwater Beach in the Mandalay and Carlouel neighborhoods.
Clearwater Beach House Investments – Then & Now
For example, in the late 1990s a 1950’s 2 bedroom 2 bath 1600 concrete block ranch Clearwater Beach house was going for around $120,000 – imagine 7 years later in 2004, that same beach home sold for $400,000 and then in 2006 that Clearwater Beach home was going for over $600,000.
It is easy to see why when Clearwater Beach home prices started rising it became more attractive for real estate investors to purchase these affordable houses and rent them to help cover their costs (including taxes, home owners insurance and flood insurance). Short term rentals brought the most money per day (as compared to long term rentals).
Life was good and investors benefited from quickly rising property values (Remember this rent also helped cover their escalating property taxes and insurance costs).
Now while that sounds great, realize that annual property taxes are only capped in Florida one one full time homestead residence so property taxes rose for investors and snow birds from $2,000 a year in 1996 to @$8000 a year in 2006.
In this same period we’ve seen beach homeowners and flood insurance skyrocket as well. So if you owned a vacation home or investment property on Clearwater Beach 10 years ago the monthly taxes and insurance on that home was about $400/month. Now 10 years later the taxes and insurance alone are over $1000/month and that’s before you pay any principal and interest on these homes.
The Pro for Short Term Rental Homes
These 3 and 4 bedroom homes were often great alternatives for large families looking to vacation together in Clearwater Beach and offered a good option to limited hotel or condo options for families back then.
The Cons – Party Homes and Parking Problems
Some full-time beach home owners had bad experiences with renters coming in and “partying” in their quiet, up-scale residential neighborhoods. Understandably, who wants people partying until all hours next door when you have to go to work in the morning. The other concern was parking of additional cars in an area with limited extra parking.
I can personally tell you that in the 10 years we lived on North Clearwater Beach we never experienced this ourselves and we had a home next door and one across the street that was frequently used for short term rentals.
Many full time home owners and residents, led by the Clearwater Beach Association (CBA) took their complaints to the City Council. When they raised the issue the City realized that Clearwater’s Codes back then were not clear in banning these short term rentals. The battle began…
The Legal Battle: Luxury Homeowners vs City of Clearwater
Round 1: When the City of Clearwater began it’s re-development Master Plan a few years ago they decided to take steps to permanently close the loop hole and ban short term rentals in residential neighborhoods. When this happened 31 home owners, many of which were investors files a lawsuit challenging the new codes and requesting “grand-fathering status” as allowed by the City. Many felt they had purchase property under the old rules and to change the rules midstream caused them severe financial hardship and a significant loss in their real estate property values.
Round 2: This battle went on for over 2 years and in April of this year, Judge Nellie Khouzam ruled in favor of these 31 property owners and allowed their properties to be grandfathered to allow them to do short term rentals as long as they continued to operate in that capacity.
Round 3: This week the Clearwater City Council voted unanimously to appeal the judges decision. At this time there is no date set for a trial but the battle continues – stay tuned for Round 4.
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