I begrudgingly became an armchair expert on vacation rentals when six years ago I found myself living three feet away from the Disneyland Hotel. No, not the real one, but a revolving door of yahoos and yo-yos in la-la-land none-the-less, including weeklong multi-level marketing seminars and ancestory.com-like family reunions, epic bachelor and legendary grad parties, weekend crack houses and afternoon porn shoots, all-night penny arcades with high volt video games and decibel numbing bombs coming from 3D surround-sound big screen TVs. Tormented by Saturday Night Fever-like discos, DJ and strobe light equipped, with everybody doin’ the groove at the international meeting place for Alcoholics non Anonymous, I’ve earned my stripes.
So as cities ponder whether to ban or regulate vacation rentals which have metastasized throughout our communities, they should realize that their operators are committing, among other crimes, bank fraud, insurance fraud and tax fraud; let me explain…
The underground mom and pop vacation rental has morphed into a lucrative black market run by realtors in cahoots with savvy conmen masquerading as residents who obtain mortgages and home insurance policies fraudulently under the guise that they’re buying their dream homes. And one would be naïve not to assume that they’re also committing State and Federal tax evasion on the big bucks raked in under the table. Cities would be ill-advised to enter into such unholy alliances and find themselves in a position complicit with these shenanigans.
And what of the realtors who are managing these properties and acting as front-men for the black marketeers? These special pleaders lauding the accolades of vacation rentals at city councils when it’s really about them lining their own pockets. I don’t want to be a stickler here, but doesn’t the Business and Professions Code of the California Department of Real Estate have something to say about the legal operation of property management companies?
But I’ll leave it to the FBI to tell cities about the reports filed by duped vacationers responding to unscrupulous craigslist ads who arrive at the door of their “Pacific Paradise Vacation Rental” only to be met by bewildered homeowners perplexedly scratching their heads. Offshore swindlers simply grab photos of someone’s beach pad off the internet then post them for rent in the advertiser.
Or what about the legitimate landlord who finds the apartment he just rented listed in Airbnb after it’s been transmogrified into a vacation rental by his new tenant and that a week’s stay is triple the monthly rent? Let me tell you from personal experience that it’s a real shocker to see the water bill which when calculated amounts to the toilet being flushed more times in one month than a whole year!
And what of health and safety regulations? Transient rentals like motels must conform to zoning laws and have overhead sprinkler systems, emergency fire exists, occupancy and parking limits and handicapped accommodations. What’s the city’s exposure in the event of an accident which seems inevitable in a houseful of revelers that are drinking, smoking and doing drugs?
Cities don’t need to requisition any lengthy studies; let me save them some time and money and proffer this free advice: Just spend a miserable, sleepless night next door to a vacation rental where there’s a frat party with flip-flop challenged hodads doin’ the hokey pokey as they bark or barf over the balcony into your hydrangea after playing the Power Hour drinking game, and you’ll know all that you need to know.
It’s with good reason communities like Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Rolling Hills Estates have banned them.