Douglas County OKs vacation rental rules
MINDEN, Nev. – Under a new Douglas County ordinance, Lake Tahoe vacation rentals would have to include a permit number in their advertising.
The ordinance is a step being pushed by Lake Tahoe Accommodations’ Jim Morris, who has been trying to get the state to enforce rules against rogue rental agents.
Under the new ordinance, the local contact person should be a licensed property manager, property owner or someone who lives or has a primary place of business in Tahoe Township.
Property managers must be licensed with state Division of Real Estate and comply with state law.
The county has required those who are renting units for 28 days in a row or less to have a valid permit for years.
The new ordinance clarifies that permit holders must renew every year and that permit number must be included in all advertising for a vacation home rental along with the maximum occupancy approved for the rental.
The ordinance says anyone in violation may be prosecuted for a misdemeanor and that each violation may count as a separate offense.
Morris said he has dealt with multiple cases involving a woman who does not hold a license with the state and has been operating outside of the law.
Last month Morris sent a letter to the owners of 14 property rentals who appear on the woman’s Web site.
“We have an e-mail from a Midwestern client who rented a lake view home only to find out it wasn’t available when they arrived to take occupancy,” Morris said in the letter.
“They were told they could not get their money back, but there was an alternate property and they had to take what they could get.”
Morris said the revised county ordinance will only be helpful if it is enforced.
“We’re in pretty good shape,” he said. “If we can just enforce it now, that will be the real question.”
Morris suggested the county have a czar in charge of enforcement, pointing out there are four different departments involved. He said consumers should look for the permit number on advertisements when renting a property.
“We’ve reported many situations where people haven’t had permits,” he said. “Now it is required that managers post their permit numbers, but we still have to identify the party. Sometimes that’s hard to do, it requires some detective work.”
He expressed frustration with the state Real Estate Division.
“We’ve had people operating for years without licenses,” he said. “The state is being pennywise and pound foolish. They have a source of revenue and they’re not pursuing it.”
He said the criminal component to the ordinance could help prosecute the worst offenders.
“But you can have all the laws in the world, and it won’t make any difference if you don’t enforce them.”