The City of Marco Island’s dramatically changed the area’s vacation rental landscape with the passing of Ordinance 22-08. The Ordinance created sweeping overhauls to how vacation rentals could operate in Marco Island, spanning registration, inspections, and home set up requirements. The Ordinance is long and confusing, making it difficult for vacation rental owners to know how they are impacted and how to stay compliant. It has even led to a lawsuit from Marco Island vacation rental homeowners and the Florida Association of Realtors.
We at HaloHome have spent hours poring over the Ordinance and are sharing a comprehensive guide to help current or prospective vacation rental owners in Marco Island understand and navigate the new rules impacting their home.
Our first article on the Marco Island Ordinance focuses on the most impactful change: the appointment of the Responsible Party. Read on to learn more about Responsible Parties and why this piece of the Ordinance is such a big deal.
Being a Responsible Party for a vacation rental home in Marco Island means having the authority and capability to ensure compliance with Marco Island Ordinance 22-08. The Responsible Party must be a natural person who is designated by the owner of the property. An owner can either make themselves the Responsible Party or designate another individual to serve as the Responsible Party.
In order to be designated, the Responsible Party must meet strict requirements, including being available 24/7 to coordinate solutions to problems at the property, and being located nearby and able to respond in person within 1 hour of notice. This means that every vacation rental must have someone local, at all times, who can be on call 24/7 to handle issues that arise. There are many other duties that must be performed by a Responsible Party as detailed later on in this article, but the Ordinance makes it clear that individuals must be local if they are to be designated as a Responsible Party. That means that vacation rental owners can only be a responsible party if they live in Marco Island year-round. Moreover, as the rest of this article will describe, it is a serious commitment for which owners must be willing to be on call and responsive 24/7, which is an unwelcome proposition.
The first of many steps in the Marco Island Ordinance’s Registration process is for the owner and Responsible Party to complete the Responsible Party Authorization Form. The form defines the scope of services and duties to be performed by the Responsible Party, which the Responsible Party and owner must understand and agree to.
On this form:
Each signature must also be witnessed by another individual. The witness’ name must be printed in the field next to the respective signatures of the Responsible Party and owner. The completed form must be attached to the registration and submitted in order for the Certificate of Compliance to be issued for the vacation rental property.
Finally, it is essential to note that, in the event the Responsible Party changes, the City of Marco Island must be notified and a new Responsible Party must be designated, using the Responsible Party Authorization Form and registration process, within 10 days.
The Marco Island Ordinance requires that all lease agreements include select language and important information. These changes must be made prior to submitting the vacation rental for registration, as the full lease agreement must be provided to the City of Marco as part of the application.
With respect to the Responsible Party, the required lease agreement changes include:
Please note that these updates are the only ones that relate to the Responsible Party. There are several other additions that must be included so be sure to review the Ordinance or review our other blog posts detailing all of the changes in full.
The Responsible Party must ensure that the rental property is set up in full compliance of the Ordinance. This includes ensuring certain items and notices are placed correctly in the home prior to the arrival of guests.
The following notices and summaries must be posted in the home by the Responsible Party:
There are several other required notices that must be posted throughout the home but do not include the Responsible Party’s information. However, the Responsible Party is required to monitor their placement in the home as part of their ongoing duties which we detail in the next section.
The Responsible Party must perform specific actions for pre-arrival and post-departure of each guest booking.
The pre-arrival duties include:
The post-departure duties are performed after the guest vacates the property. After each stay, the Responsible Party must perform a comprehensive inspection, confirming select Notices are posted in the home and other tasks completed, to ensure the home remains compliant with the Code of Ordinances.
The requirement of a Responsible Party has the biggest impact on vacation rental owners because it limits self-management of properties. Anyone who owns a vacation rental in Marco Island but lives elsewhere cannot legally operate their home without hiring someone who can serve as their home’s Responsible Party. Given the large amount of owners who live in the area part-time, this requirement will impact a lot of owners and how they have managed their vacation rental for years.
Violations of the Ordinance range from $250 for the first instance and quickly rise to $5,000 for the sixth instance and any subsequent violations. Additionally, violations are counted on a daily basis. That means if ba guest improperly parks their car outside for a full week and an owner is unaware, the owner would be fined $17,750.00 with the potential for additional penalties, including a revocation of their Certificate of Compliance.
Given these steep fines and penalties imposed by the Ordinance, it becomes clear that owners need to hire a trustworthy Responsible Party. It is about finding a Responsible Party who will be available 24/7, be at the home within an hour, provide guests with necessary notices ahead of time, perform thorough turnover inspections, catch and fix all issues in the home, and deal with the City and authorities if needed. Finding someone local is easy. Finding someone trustworthy is incredibly difficult.
Marco Island Ordinance 22-08 makes it difficult for home owners to operate vacation rentals because of the need for a local presence, 24/7 on duty requirement, and keen attention to detail required to stay compliant with the law. This is hard to do unless owners are nearby and 100% dedicated to running a vacation rental. It also means that the owner must be willing to get out of bed in the middle of the night to respond to a noise violation at the home, leave the golf course early in order to evict tenants, and pick up trash if cleaners are unable to be at the home immediately.
Moreover, it means assessing your current vendors and determining whether you could rely on them with 100% certainty to fulfill the requirements of the Ordinance. It makes relying on cleaners, real estate agents, or neighbors, all of whom have competing priorities, a very risky gamble that might lead to thousands of dollars in fines.
This is why we strongly believe that owners should hire a dedicated vacation rental management company to manage their home and serve as their designated Responsible Party. While there is a cost, a good vacation rental manager will ensure you remain fully compliant with the Marco Island Ordinance 22-08 while providing professional revenue management, guest placement, operations, and home care services. Their guidance could lead you to making more revenue on your bookings, while helping you avoid costly Ordinance violations. More importantly, they allow you to free your time so that you can focus on more important matters in life.
HaloHome is proud to offer professional vacation rental management for homes in Naples and Marco Island. We pride ourselves on our performance and aim to provide home owners with exceptional returns.