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Code enforcement


#1

Hello all, I am new to this forum. I had a recent experience that caused me to Google “Neighbor complains to City” and that’s how I found this site. Glad to be a member. Let me further explain…

I am relatively new to the AirBnB business, just started this past January 2018. I really like the income it has generated for me, I’ve averaged about $700 per month, which isn’t too shabby. My home is large, on a quiet cul-de-sac, and all of my guests so far have been very quiet, considerate, and non-nuisance type of guests. I only allow 2 max. guests, and I only rent out 1 bedroom in my home (my guest room).

Well, yesterday a notice from the City Code Enforcement was placed on my door, to “cease operating a ‘bed and breakfast’ on the property” – or incur penalties and criminal charges. Of course, I called Code Enforcement right away. At first, the officer was very gruff (I guess he was expecting an angry, confrontational person), but then later was kind and considerate, when he realized that all I wanted to do was straighten out the situation. As I told him “I certainly don’t want to do anything illegal. Please tell me what I need to do to make this legal.” He then instructed me to contact the City’s Bldg. & Safety Department, to obtain a permit. I told him I would comply immediately.

So today, I visited the City’s Bldg. & Safety Department, and showed the person the notice from Code Enforcement. I told him that I was here to obtain a permit, so as to make my BnB “legal” and such. I also stressed to him that I only allowed 2 guests at a time, and only 1 room in my home was being used. I also let him know that I did not cook breakfast (that’s also listed in my ad on AirBnB - no breakfast or any other food is included).

Well, the guy at Bldg. & Safety looked so confused, like he didn’t know what to do. He said he’s never run into the situation before. I told him he could make a copy of the notice (which he did), and he said he would speak to the person in Code Enforcement, and for me to call him back and leave a message (which I did - so far, no return call yet).

Come to find out, one of my neighbor reported me (I know who did it). These folks have been “problem” neighbors since day one, and I’ve lived here 10 years now. They are both using meth, and who knows what else. They are nosy, and I’m sure noticed my guests taking suitcases out of their car, license plates from out of state, etc. Then they probably found my AirBnB ad online. Anything to make my life difficult, they’ll do it. And, I think jealousy plays a role here, too. Probably don’t like the fact that I’m retired, and still making money.

So yeah, this will be very interesting to see how this all transpires. I’ll let you know, as I’m sure others have been in similar situations to mine. Personally, I don’t even think I need a permit - or do I? What about all the other folks in town who rent out rooms? That’s income, is it not? They don’t need a permit to do so. I could understand if I was running a hotel with food and have many guests coming and going (which I don’t).

Oh, before I forget, I also called AirBnB and let them know what was going on. They said their legal team would look into it.


#2

You might (we do) but it depends where you’re located.


#3

Yeah, check with definition of BNB in your jurisdiction. In my state, you actually have to serve breakfast to fit the definition. Most jurisdictions do not have a minimum stay requirement for standard rental properties. Maybe check around with other hosts in your area.


#4

How do you know they are using meth? The meth heads I know try to keep undercover because they are fearful of bringing attention to themselves. They will close all curtains in paranoia that the cops are staking their yard out. You sure it is them?


#5

This is a bad situation for you and your guests. It doesn’t sound like they are going to be won over by anything you do and even if you never hear from code enforcement again you might have problems with the neighbors. I suppose this is why some people warn guests to avoid the neighbors. Anyway, try to work it out with the city first, carry on but be aware. You might want to install security cameras out front. That way you can keep an eye out for anything the neighbor might try like breaking into guest’s cars or just being nosy in general . I live in the house I rent and find the cameras handy for being able to tell what time the guests came in at night or if they even checked in at all. Last nights guest arrived at 10 pm and left at 4 am.


#6

Weve heard of this before. These things are usually complaint driven. No idea what you should do. You did contact the proper party and they didn’t know. Find out within your jurisdiction what the laws on the books are.


#7

That was my first guess when I started reading this.

If you know this for a fact, maybe you should report them. It seems odd someone doing an illegal activity would report you for something less severe knowing you could retaliate.


#8

Depends so much on the location and zoning, sounds like the US.

Where I am for example usually it is not a question of obtaining a permit to do something not allowed in your Zone, you would need to Re Zoned to a category that allows that activity.

I remember a rental that was used to cook meths had to be demolished, it was not cost effective to clean it.


#9

Thanks everyone, I read your comments and appreciate the feedback.

Well, I did comply with the City (I live in a suburb of Los Angeles), and submitted the paperwork and proper documentation. They even wanted me to draw a site plan listing setbacks, dimensions, where the guests park (they cannot park on the street), and I also have to draw a floor plan of my home. I paid the $98 fee and now I just have to see if it’s approved. They called it a “special use permit”.

The poor man at the City that took in my paperwork looked like he wasn’t sure what to do, so I asked him if this was the first time he’s had to do this, and he said it was. Well, I know that there are several Airbnb’s in my city, but I’m the only one being singled out apparently due to my neighbors. Speaking of them, they have an annoying small dog who loves to bark at all hours. Maybe I should report THEM.

I also received an email from the code enforcement officer (aka power trip officer), letting me know that code violations are “misdemeanors” - I think he meant that he could issue me a citation for a misdemeanor for breaking the laws of the city. He also stated that he read my Airbnb reviews online, and that I “cook” for the guests! Actually, what he read was a comment from one of my guests that said my “baking was fantastic” (I gave one of the guests a cookie one day when I was baking). I do not cook any meals for the guests, nor do I allow any cooking in the kitchen. Most of my guests are short-term guests anyway.


#10

Pretty sure retaliating in any way wouldn’t “solve” your troubles, only add to them. Sounds like you will be legal soon, just sit back and enjoy.


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