Ah, short-term rentals. Just the phrase sometimes is enough to bristle the hair of a Tahoe local. Aside from the fact that, right or wrong, there is a perception that short term rentals (STRs) are taking away badly needed long-term rental spots, some short-term renters’ actions have given STRs a bad rap. The most common complaints from neighbors are noise, illegal parking, too many people crammed into houses, lack of adherence to trash protocols, and a general cluelessness when it comes to visiting Tahoe in the winter.
The good news is that local rental agents spend a lot of time trying to educate visitors on what is proper behavior in our residential neighborhoods. If those tenants continue to be a nuisance, there is something neighbors can do about it.
In Placer County, the rental ordinance that went into effect in February 2022 can hopefully help bring a halt to less-than-neighborly behavior. Rental agent Jill Schott, owner of Tahoe Moon Properties, says, “the ordinance gives more guts behind what we say. I think the ordinance needed to happen.”
So what does the Placer County STR ordinance say?
Only a limited number of permits are provided to rent properties on a short-term basis. Those who hold those permits must make sure renters follow the rules or they can be fined or lose their permit.
Violations of noise and other regulations that are not remedied within an hour can result in a fine of $1500, with additional violations calling for an increased fine, and three violations can lead to a hearing for revocation of the permit.
STRs must have a local contact person who is available 24/7 and, if needed, can be present at the rental within 60 minutes. Other rules include:
- Vehicles may be parked only in designated parking areas provided by the rental.
- There is a maximum occupancy for the home based on the number of bedrooms.
- All trash must be in bear-proof garbage cans, and no food should be left in a car.
- All outdoor wood or charcoal burning is prohibited, including open wood burn pits, bonfires, campfires, and charcoal grills.
- Additionally, hosting special events (weddings, corporate gatherings, commercial functions, etc.) requires a permit issued by the county.
- Quiet hours are from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m., and the ordinance states “amplified sound shall not be used outside or be audible from the parcel line of any short-term rental at any time.”
These regulations must be posted in several obvious places within the property to make sure that renters clearly understand them, and a notification that the property has a permit must be placed outside as well (usually on the bear box). If renters fail to adhere to these rules, anyone can call the 24/7 hotline number, (530) 448-8003, to correct the problem.
Schott has been meeting with Placer County officials and talking about ways to make the ordinance more effective. One idea for improvement is to have a local contact phone number listed on the permit attached to the bear box so that a neighbor can contact the rental agent instead of the county.
One area that Schott also feels needs to be addressed is out-of-the-area or international companies like Airbnb that rent properties without a local representative in place. In addition, Schott says there are properties out there that are flaunting the regulations. “Most of the problem houses, they are bought for investment and they don’t care about the rules and don’t have permits.”
The local rental agents in general are careful to inform their renters about the regulations, with particular emphasis on the issue that most rankles neighbors — noise. Schott’s company, as well as others, use noise monitoring devices in each rental home that automatically notify the agent if the house gets too loud.
“We ring everyone when they arrive, ‘we just want to warn you that Tahoe is very strict on noise,’” said Schott. “We don’t tolerate any noise.”
Many local rental agents require a signed agreement to follow their rules, which are sometimes stricter than the county’s. These agreements focus on maximum occupancy limitations, garbage control, parking restrictions, winter use of the property, and a resounding: “No, you can’t have a big party at your house.”
Hauserman Rental Group’s agreement states, “All our homes are in residential areas and may not be used for weddings, receptions, parties or large gatherings. Any disruptive parties could result in eviction and forfeiture of entire rental amount and security deposit.”
In other words, for the most part the renters who visit the Lake Tahoe region and conduct late night parties, park in their neighbors’ driveways, or have a big bonfire in the backyard either: a) haven’t read the rules that were sent to them by the owners and rental agents, or the one that is prominently displayed inside the house, or b) They rented from an unpermitted property or from an owner not following the rules, or c) they saw the rules and just don’t give a damn.
The reality, however, is that owners do need to care and follow the rules, or they could lose their permit and pay fines.
Residents who have to deal with scofflaws shouldn’t hesitate to call the rental hot line (530) 448-8003 or the rental agent’s number if it’s displayed. Your neighbors who were trying to get up the nerve to reach out to someone to stop that infernal noise will thank you.