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Marathon Set to Tackle Vacation Rental Violations

Marathon City Council met this week to tackle several large issues facing the city. Among the largest of the issues was the problem of illegitimate or unlawful vacation rentals. Vacation rentals have become increasingly popular in the Florida Keys. Families and tourists who want to come and stay a while or partake in fishing and boating are largely opting to rent a vacation home instead of staying in a local hotel. We have seen a huge influx of property owners who are turning their vacation homes into vacation rentals for profit. The problem is that many are not following local laws and guidelines about properly registering and permitting a vacation rental property.

At the December 15 Marathon City Council meeting, city council members discussed this issue, as well as a different problem they are facing related to vacation rentals. A new trend that is popping up around Marathon is the subdivision of mobile homes for use as vacation rentals. City manager George Garrett pointed out the safety concerns that this raises, as often not all areas of the subdivision have easy access to exit points. Residents and renters alike have been complaining about this issue, but Garrett pointed out the great difficulties facing the city in going about addressing the issue. Internal modifications once mobile homes pass inspections are difficult to address.

What solutions did the council identify? The council reaffirmed plans to “aggressively” go after vacation rental violations and operate under the 3 strikes policy. First-time offenders will receive a warning about their vacation rental violation. The second strike will result in issuance of a citation. Upon receipt of a third violation, property owners will not be allowed to rent out their property for 12 months, and will be required to have an appearance before the special magistrate before their rights are reinstated. Council members have also made a policy to shorten the length of time that it takes between notice of violation and when consequences are issued. Though council members are trying to help all of Marathon, the areas of greatest concern include Coco Plum Drive, Sombrero Beach Road, Aviation Boulevard and Grassy Key. These areas have received the greatest number of complaints and have seen the greatest number of violations in the past.

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