For the last 9 months or so, the property next to me has been used as a mini-hotel; some people call would call it a short term vacation rental, I simply call it a pain in my rear. The City of San Diego hasn’t budged on its misinterpretation of the municipal code (§131.0422) that prohibits visitor accommodations in residential zones and the owner has said that he can do whatever he wanted to with this property.
I’ve spent a lot of my free time amounting to hundreds of hours researching laws and anything I could find about short term vacation rentals. I looked for anything that would be on my side and uncovered trash regulations, but those weren’t enough to get the City to do anything. I like watching law dramas where lawyers seems to pull rabbits out of their hats to win cases; I was looking for my rabbit.
When we purchased our house, I knew that there were CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions) relating to my property. Our neighborhood was developed in the 1960s and a homeowners association was no longer in existence (if one did exist). I read the CC&Rs many times looking for something that would give me legal recourse against the property owner next to me (neighbors are people that live near you and don’t just own property near you). It wasn’t until I had read the CC&Rs at least 10 times that I stumbled upon a few clauses that looked like they could apply. In addition, the CC&Rs appeared to automatically renew every 10 years and only expired if a majority of owners voted to terminate them.
I started talking to one of my neighbors that is an attorney that deals with real estate law and he seemed to think that while we could go after the City to enforce the code, my idea about using the CC&Rs could work. As much as I want to help other people, my primary goal was to get rid of the vacation rental next to me. I retained my neighbor as my attorney and he said the first step was to gather support from other neighbors; I got several of my neighbors to join and my attorney drafted a letter to the property owner claiming he violated the CC&Rs on a number of grounds.
The owner next door hired an attorney to represent him and basically wanted to settle without going to mediation or court. Without acknowledging that all of our claims were valid, he agreed to stop renting out his property as a vacation rental. Wow, I was stunned when my attorney told me this! Over the course of the next few weeks, we went back and forth hammering out the details of an agreement. As of now, the current owner is no longer going to rent it out for less than 30 days.
While I’ve managed to rid my neighborhood of this annoyance, my approach probably won’t work for many others. I had CC&Rs that were still enforceable, I had the determination to fight, and I was able to afford an attorney to represent me. I’m not an attorney, so if anyone else wants to pursue an action to rid their neighborhood of a vacation rental, please contact an attorney (I now have several on speed dial :-)).