Marco Island facing lawsuit over short-term rental registration rules

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

A war on vacation homes is underway in one community. A real estate broker association has filed a lawsuit against Marco Island for its controversial short-term rental registration rules.

Recently, a number of places in Florida have made a rule that limits the ability of private property owners to rent their properties on a short-term basis. Marco Island has recently become one of those cities.

Owners of the rental properties in the city say Marco Island is unfairly singling them out. The lawsuit filed this week claims the Marco Island city attorney, the police chief, and members of the city council violated state law. Now, they want a judge to decide.

The fight began when a group of homeowners filed suit against the City of Marco Island. Now the Florida Association of Realtors is going to court. Both are challenging the city’s controversial short-term rental ordinance.

“The quality of life for the Marco Island residents was just out of control. And something had to be done,” said Ed Issler, former president of Take Back Marco.

Take Back Marco is a political action committee that pushed for the ordinance.

“Neighborhoods had gotten out of control, with noise, trash, cars all over the neighborhoods,” said Issler.

Issler believes the city is on solid legal ground by putting in place rules that require registration and impose limits on occupancy and noise.

Albert Randa is a plaintiff in the first lawsuit, but he decided not to wait and see if he’d win. He sold out. “Marco Island was awesome. I wanted to retire there. I just wanted to, you know, pay down the mortgage. That was ridiculous. As Marco Island prices are ridiculous, so I was hoping to pay down the mortgage and retire there. Now I am not.”

The Florida Association of Realtors told WINK News in a statement that it “Filed a lawsuit so the courts can decide on behalf of Florida property owners hurt by this illegal and burdensome ordinance.”

“I hope that everybody is allowed to vacation in Marco on a weekly basis. And nobody gets hassled, and that everybody’s allowed to do what they want with her property,” said Randa.

The Florida Association of Realtors wants the judge to issue a permanent injunction that would end Marco Island’s enforcement of the ordinance. The homeowners who sued also seek monetary damages.

WINK News has reached out to the city, which has provided no comment.

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