Vacation Rentals To Be Hit With Another Fee Increase

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It’s the year of the fee increase on Fort Myers Beach. In addition to moving toward a millage rate increase (the final vote will be September 22nd at 5PM), the Fort Myers Beach Town Council will also be raising license fees on Jet Ski and Parasail operators, for memberships at Bay Oaks, on users of the pool, and for many other services the town offers.

Next up for a big fee increase will be the owners of vacation rentals. It was just last year that the town council raised the license fee from $50.00 per year to $300 per year on short-term vacation rental owners. That brought in an additional $330,000 to the town. This council says it will be using the money for work-force housing, although, admittedly council members have no idea what they will do to fill the need of work-force housing.

During its first budget public hearing last week, councilman Bill Veach proposed an additional fee of $100 per bedroom for every vacation rental be added on top of the annual $300 fee. Owners of a 4-bedroom vacation rental will now pay $700 a year, rather than $300, if the proposal passes through the second public hearing on the 22nd.

Councilman Dan Allers opposed the fee increase. He said the reason we imposed the fee, in the original ordinance, was for administrative purposes to do all the processing and now we’re trying to change it to use the money for something else.

Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros said the growth in vacation rentals on the island is alarming. “I am losing my town. People are buying up the properties and renting them out. I’m getting emotional about this. My neighborhood is gone. I now have to deal with strangers on a weekly basis walking up and down my street. We have to do something to get this situation under control.” She also said she has many friends who can no longer live on the island, driven out by the short-term rentals.

Allers said the fee increase is just going to get passed onto the end user who will continue to come. It will not slow down the growth of vacation rentals. Hosafros disagreed, she said if our fees are higher maybe those people will go somewhere else. That is my goal. I don’t want this to become a short-term rental community. It has gone beyond reasonable.

There are approximately 2,000 registrations for short-term rental operations on Fort Myers Beach, according to councilman Bill Veach. They average 2.1 bedrooms. He said the additional fees could net the town another $1 million per year. And, he says, the goal is not for the town to be in the business of building work-force housing but for there to be a housing entity. The town would have a contract with that entity to provide work-force housing. Veach wants there to be a bucket of money built up so that when an opportunity arises, the town is ready to fund it.

Mayor Ray Murphy said he admired Veach’s initiative.

The fee increase was voted on and approved and needs to be voted on again at the second budget meeting on September 22nd.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Not all short term renters are bad, in fact, most are here to enjoy something they can’t get at home….the beach, time with family playing in the surf, riding a jet ski they don’t have to buy. Not all short term owners are bad either. I have owned cottages on the island for 28 years. As a retired widow, this is my income, my business. Out of 28 years I have had 2 complaints regarding renters. The fees are out of line. If the rate was to cover the processing, someone is making a wonderful living. Maybe if the government hadn’t taken so much leverage away from our police force, much of the “behavior issues” wouldn’t be a problem. The nuisance abatement law is Not good enough. The issues that hurt homeowners are the people (most are probably not vacationers) who scream and yell all hours of the night and the police and/or code enforcement can’t do anything about it. Very sad. The vacationers bring a lot of opportunity to small businesses and to our island. They just want what we all would like, a place to share time with family and friends. It is getting harder and harder to find. I would hate for this to get out of hand over a few bad apples.

    • Agree 100%. We are also residents that own a few cottages we rent out as vacation rentals to help with our property taxes. These fees are going to drive out people like us that are on island, keep up our places, and keep an eye on our renters.

  2. Veach reminds me of my ex husband. No plan. Just wants the money.
    Hey honey, let’s save some money so we can go on a trip!
    Where are we going?
    I don’t know.
    Next year: Hey honey let’s save even more money!
    Where we going?
    I don’t know.
    Third year he took all the money out of the bank and spent it on drugs.

  3. The full time residents need to vote these town council tyrants out of office and replace them with those who don’t have an agenda or a vengeance towards vacationers. The business people in Fort Myers Beach depend on these vacationers, whether they are short term renters or long time renters. Those who come to our island should be welcomed, not penalized for their patronage!

  4. This reminds me of the state of Minnesota, if someone is having a good time or making a buck off of an idea, let’s put a tax on them!!!

  5. Tipping point. Maybe it’s time for a rental lottery? Revolving, of course. One year, two, maybe three? Then switch. More community without being overrun by just tourists. Becomes more exclusive for all!

  6. Look at all these comments. What do they have in common?? All AGAINST the fee hike. Hopefully the council will use COMMON SENSE and vote this down. Aren’t they supposed to listen to the people they represent???

  7. How about using the Nuisance Abatement Group to review and then maybe fine the owners/management companies that don’t regulate the obnoxious (nuisance) renters? A global “Do Not Rent” list that is shared by owners/management companies?

    • the Nuisance Abatement Board doesn’t regulate those kind of disturbances. Florida State law has specific violations in regards to its laws… That board is reserved for the most serious of offenses, like drugs, prostitution, gangs, gambling…

  8. How about spending some of that money on more rental COMPLIANCE officers and really enforce the rental rules so renters aren’t running amok and ruining non- renters time during the winter. We’ve been quite happy with the response when we’ve called but there could be more proactive and stronger remedy for the frequent offenders.

  9. How many residents regularly use Bay Oaks? It sounds like it’s a never ending money pit. Maybe it would make sense to close it down and build work force housing in that location.

    • Bay Oaks is very popular with residents and vacationers… they have many community activities, child care, workout sessions, pickleball and exercise classes… to name a few…

  10. Let’s be honest… An increased fee isn’t going to bring back the old neighborhood, nor is it going to prevent someone from renting their home. There’s a lot of potential income out there, and it all does bring more tourism. So, because the rentals, and tourism, is causing all our expenses to increase (infrastructure), then perhaps this would be a better avenue than raising our mileage and taxes, overall. However, will hotels and motels also be included? And, more importantly…. What about condos? AND….Is there a conflict with the Short Term rental “rules” that pretty much state you cannot change or treat properties differently or charge them (without losing the rental rules currently in place?) Not sure how the last state ruling stands….

  11. Sorry Rexanne. The jig is up. Why don’t you tell us why housing prices sky rocketed? FIRST…Uh, maybe The HUGE influx of people into Florida during the pandemic, due to the “shut down” states imposing tyrannical mandates, is the reason why the price of housing/real estate has imploded on the island. Many of the islands residents and landlords SOLD, because the opportunity TO MAKE BANK, presented itself. I know of one landlord, who owned 60 properties on the island (that were mostly annuals) He SOLD EVERY LAST ONE. AND ANOTHER OWNER/LANDLORD who owned 30 annual properties and sold every single one. SO don’t blame the people who buy these houses, blame the landlord owners who owned the properties the past few decades, rented them out in nasty/horrific condition, kicked out the workers and sold to the highest bidder. They were the ones the town should, have been keeping an eye on all these past years. Ask the annual property management realtors. They know exactly what happened.

    • Oh and not to mention… the recent plethora of annual rental homes/buildings sold by the slumlords… are getting cleaned up after 40-50 years of providing the least of clean or sanitary living conditions for their tenants. Something that also should have been checked on throughout the years.

  12. We lived on island for years… both of us my Husband and myself are older and still work and have worked on FMB for almost a decade. We were annual renters. This past year many places that were annual were sold or turned into vacation rentals. We had a few reasons for moving but all the annual rentals still available on island had huge and I mean HUGE rent increases. So they are talking about work force housing and I’m really not clear in what is considered “workforce” But I can say we paid $1.5K a month and did so for years…. And did not mind doing so either. But now the same place is $2500. We moved off island this past June. So this year I will be fighting that season traffic. I can say though I did watch my street turn into vacay rentals over this last year.

  13. Roxanne;

    I am tired of hearing your complaining.
    This is everyone’s Town not just your Town.
    Using your position as Vice Mayor to try and deter Vacation Rentals should not be allowed. These homeowners are a significant tax base for all the Town’s pet projects and should be appreciated as so. You are not going to stop Vacation Rentals so give it up!

  14. As an owner of a 2 bdrm condo on the beach, as it is rapidly disappearing due increased tides,renters are beginning to have second thoughts now.our costs have increased already and now going from $50 to $300 in 1 year and possibly now $200 more to $500 is egregious and poor management policy.

  15. First, I have lived in several large municipalities and I have never heard of one that decides to raise fees without knowing what they are going to use the money for or because they want to force something out. You raise fees to BALANCE A BUDGET! This council has no clue how to balance projects versus budget! Perfect example of why not to raise the millage rate. Looking forward to November!!

    Second, is the council also trying force out the locals with the increased PWC fees? Push them out to make room for Margaritaville to take over? Margaritaville is making enough money here, let the locals be.

    Finally, this IS a vacation community, it always has been, always will be, like it or not. Our street is almost entirely vacation rentals and we do not have a problem with renters. We meet most of them and they love it here just like we do. If there are issues with renters where you live, look to the management company or owners for renting to problem renters.

  16. Bill Veach is a dreamer. The workforce housing is a good idea but land is at such a premium that I doubt construction will ever happen.
    Raising the rental registration rates again is just greedy.

  17. Ooooh, scary vacationers walking down the street=emotional, losing the neighborhood. Scary meth head vagrants wandering around, that’s ok though.

  18. Red flags when a counsel member declares they are emotional about an issue. This clouds professional perspective. Dan brings great sense here. Additional fees will no deter vacation rentals. FMB is booming as a destination vacation getaway. As development continues this will only flourish. Exorbitant town fees won’t stop this growth but they could cause additional resent. This will also drain town resources policing bedrooms…. What’s a Bedroom? Partitioned room? Half wall? Door? Murphy bed in office? Bonus room cot? Sounds like a nightmare to me.

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