Malibu Cracking Down on Vacation Rentals

The council voted this month to issue subpoenas to the websites that advertise short-term leases.

Malibu beach. Patch file photo.
Malibu beach. Patch file photo.

Malibu is cracking down on short term rentals listed on popular vacation rental websites such as Airbnb, FlipKey and VRBO, as part of an effort to protect neighborhoods from turning into what one councilwoman called "hotel zones."

There are more than 60 websites that list short-term rentals in Malibu not in compliance with city laws that require property owners to register and pay a 12 percent transient occupancy tax, according to city officials.

"What's happening in a number of different neighborhoods is that people are renting their homes out three-to-four times a week, turning certain neighborhoods in hotel zones," Councilwoman Laura Zahn Rosenthal said. "It is really incredibly inappropriate."

The council voted this month to issue subpoenas to the websites that advertise short-term leases.

Because the properties are not registered, the city does not know who to call when there are problems such as loud noise, trash or parking issues, especially in the neigborhoods of Broad Beach and the Malibu Colony, Rosenthal said.

"We don't want to send sheriff's there," the councilwoman said. "That's not a very useful way to have our sheriff's to perform in our city. We really need them on Pacific Coast Highway and dealing with other issues."

Airbnb has reached an agreement with cities such as San Francisco and Portland to collect the tax and pay them to cities. An Airbnb spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that they would not comment on Malibu's subpoenas, but said the company seeks to work with cities.

Only about 50 properties are registered with the city and pay a collective total of about $225,000 per year in city taxes, according to the city.

The goal is not to ban short-term rentals, according to Rosenthal.

"We only have 100 hotel rooms in Malibu, so it's difficult to stay here in the summer," Rosenthal said. "It's nice to be able to stay here in a home."

Many Malibu residents rent out their home during the summer months to help pay property taxes and supplement their income, she said.

The tax revenue could go to help boost law-enforcement efforts, beach patrols and other city services, especially during the busy summer months.

--City News Service

Robin May 30, 2014 at 05:10 PM
We should ban these rentals period. They are a nightmare for the residents. A restriction on transient (defined as 30 days or less) rentals would allow a homeowner to rent out their home for the summer (any rentals over 30 days would be legal if we ban the transient rentals). Most of the transient renters here are people who live within driving distance who rent the homes for a weekend and have parties. Most of the homeowners who rent these homes are outside investors only interested in a profit center - they have no ties to the community. I know this from experience since there are at least 6 of these within a 1/2 mile of my home. They are a big problem and some neighborhoods have become hotel zones as Laura Rosenthal noted. Unfortunately, she has a conflict of interest because she rents her house short term. She is more concerned with what the tourists want than what the residents want. Malibu residential neighborhoods are being destroyed as house after house is bought for the purpose of turning them into hotels and rehab centers. If we banned transient rentals these homes would be rented by more stable long term tenants or sold to families who actually want to live here.
Antoinette Berget May 30, 2014 at 10:05 PM
Dear Robin, I live on my property, so renters know I AM HERE UPSTAIRS. I am one of those who rents ONLY to quiet families that have children and want to come to enjoy peace and quiet and the beauty of Malibu. We are one of the ones that is NOT A PARTY HOUSE! I make sure of that. I think the city should go after the ones that have frequent loud parties and have neighbors upset. Events and parties NEED CITY PERMITS PERIOD, so the city can control noise levels and limit people attending. I agree with you in many ways. Good luck with your neighbors. Antoinette
Robin July 16, 2014 at 06:56 PM
Antoinette, you are unfortunately in the minority. None of the houses in my neighborhood have owners on site and you are the only one I know of who cares whether the renters behave or not. The investors that own the properties in my area don't care about the neighborhood and know the city does absolutely nothing to control them. The city needs to crack down on the party houses, although there is a requirement for a party permit, we have tried this route in complaining to the city and have gotten nowhere. We complain, and the city does nothing. Laura Rosenthal is misinformed, most of the people who rent these houses are not tourists who would stay in a hotel if we only had enough rooms, they are from nearby communities who could drive here for the day, but want a house to party in. I would support a conditional use permit for some rental houses with meaningful restrictions to prevent abuse, but it would need to have teeth and a city council willing to enforce it.
Antoinette Berget July 17, 2014 at 03:16 PM
Dear Robin, Those investors who rent for parties should be shut down or penalized period! They are the offending ones that will ruin it for us small properties, that rent mostly in the summer. I am ONSITE AT ALL TIMES, as this is my home! A lot of my renters come from Europe and I love that, as they do not have lots of friends to invite. They are respectful and enjoy the serenity our beautiful Malibu has to offer. In our rental agreement it states how many people are allowed or it becomes and EVENT and the City of Malibu has to issue a permit PERIOD! I am so sorry you have to deal with this, but can you sue the offensive owners? I would love a conditional use permit rather than stop my vacation rentals that helps pay the taxes. Keep in touch and let me know if I can help in any way? Antoinette


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