Several of our residents have raised concerns regarding short-term vacation rentals in our neighborhoods. These properties have the potential to significantly impact the quality of life for their neighbors with large groups of people coming and going each week and disrupting the peace and quiet of our neighborhood. Unlike some neighborhoods that are empowered through covenants attaching to their properties, the RVCA is a voluntary association and has no enforcement powers. We must rely on City ordinances to mitigate the negative impacts of these properties. This article will identify and summarize the primary ordinances governing these properties and provide you with information about how you can register a complaint when you believe a property is in violation.
In December of 2016, the Fort Lauderdale city commission passed ordinance C-16-25 which amended Article X – VACATION RENTALS, of chapter 15 of the city code of ordinances.
The full text of the ordinance can be found here: Ft Lauderdale VR Ordinance
In summary, the ordinance establishes a registration program for any vacation rental, it defines the process by which registrations may be applied for and the penalties for failure to register. It specifies several life safety items (smoke detectors, pool fences, etc.) that must be present and empowers the city to inspect the property annually to ensure compliance. It further establishes limits on the number of people allowed on the property, rules regarding parking, a requirement to adhere to noise ordinances and various penalties for violations.
According to the city attorney’s office, this is about as far as the city can go in terms of regulating vacation rentals. In fact, there has been a bill introduced in Tallahassee each of the last several years which would strip the city of the right to regulate these properties. It would grandfather our existing ordinance as long as it is not amended. Fortunately, these bills have not passed the legislature. It will likely come up again next session so keep your eyes out and inform your representatives of your opinion.
The primary complaints residents have regarding vacation rental properties are noise related. City ordinance chapter 17-NOISE CONTROL sets out the rules and restrictions pertaining to Noise levels. The most relevant terms are found in 17-7 Specific Restrictions:
1.Amplified sound. No person shall cause, allow, or permit the operation of any amplified sound device from the following use districts or locations in the following manner:
i.Sound shall not be plainly audible for a period of one (1) minute or longer at a distance of twenty-five (25) feet or more when measured from the source property line between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. daily.
ii.Sound shall not be plainly audible for a period of one (1) minute or longer at a distance of fifty (50) feet or more when measured from the source property line between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. daily.
The full text of the ordinance can be found here: Noise Control Ordinance
How to Report Violations:
For violations of the Vacation Rental Ordinance you should check the city’s vacation rental website at Ft Lauderdale VR Program Page
Noise complaints should also be phoned to the customer service number: 954-828-8000. If you are a subscriber to Protect Rio Vista, you may contact the patrol directly if they are on duty.
Please do not hesitate to enter a complaint if you know of a property that is non-compliant. Only by strict enforcement of our current ordinances can we mitigate the impact of these properties on our enjoyment of the neighborhood. RVCA will continue to work closely with our Commissioner and the city to establish constraints to the extent permissible by state statute.
Your RVCA Board
Bill Kirk reported the following update at our General Meeting on 1/25.
At the last General Meeting held on September 21, 2020, Raj Verma provided an update of the expected scope and timeline of the Tarpon River clean up project. I wanted to provide a brief update to that summary:
In December the City submitted the water quality assessment reports for Tarpon River and George English Lake to the FDEP. A link to these reports is provided at Tarpon River Water Quality Report
FDEP has given the green signal to start the suction dredging for both George English Lake and Tarpon River. Since the City has the permits for George English, dredging there will begin as soon as purchasing is able to secure a contractor. Permitting is in progress for Tarpon River. As soon as that is obtained, the work on the river would begin promptly. The city’s target start date is still Spring 2021.
Himmarshee Canal assessment is ongoing. The City has until April 30, 2021 to submit the Himmarshee assessment report. The city hopes to have it done sooner.
Miami Waterkeeper have started sampling for water quality testing. The weekly testing by Miami Waterkeeper began on Tuesday January 12 and results are immediately posted on the Swim Guide (theswimguide.org). Sampling sites in the Tarpon River, at George English and in the Himmarshee canal were included.