In the summer of 2011, our City Council quietly voted to prohibit residential property owners from renting their properties for less than 90 days at a time to address allegations of late night noise and parties. There was very little evidence of those “parties” and such a change was a de facto ban on vacation rentals. Of course, no one goes on a vacation for more than 90 days.
As I rent my high-end townhouse in Atlantic City I strongly opposed this ban and so did other vacation rental property owners in the area.
We formed a coalition, the Atlantic City Coalition of Landlords, hired an attorney and we were on our way. In our case most of the local property owners already knew each other but others we had to contact by email. We had meetings in person (where possible), held conference calls (sometimes with our attorneys), and followed up with action items via email. It’s critical to have and build relationships with other local property owners as this provides strength and resources in fighting those that attempt to wrongly restrict vacation rentals.
With the Coalition’s active support our lawyers found the city wrongly targeted “absentee owners” and sought to define short-term rentals as hotels. In fact, by targeting “absentee owners” the city was violating New Jersey law.
The Supreme Court judge ruled in our favor and instead of forcing the city to summary judgment, we reached an agreement with the city in December 2012 that repealed the ban and stipulated that the city wouldn’t prohibit short-term rentals or impose fees on those rentals in the future. We ended up paying $35,000 to our lawyers, but that was well worth it given the results we achieved. The more members you have the better as it helps defray the cost, our costs though not fun became affordable with more people involved. It was a very worthwhile investment!
I wanted to share the story of Atlantic City in case this can be replicated for others facing similar issues. Our short-term rentals bring economic benefits to Atlantic City. We are very clear with guests about the rules for staying at our homes, we enforce them, and there are existing rules on the books for dealing with those rare and isolated instances of bad behavior.