The Titusville Planning Commission met Thursday evening to further discuss the Titusville Rental Licensing Program (TRLP) and a potential ordinance regarding short term online rentals.

The commission had met earlier about these issues, and agreed to come back later with research to give guidance on the issues.

Building Inspector Skip Welling asked the commission at the Oct. 10 meeting to review facts and do some research on other rental licensing programs. Welling asked the commission to come back with a recommendation on whether or not the City should have the program, and what changes they felt should be made.

    According to a summry of the meeting provided by Welling, general discussion of the TRLP included support for the program. It was said that the program is in place to fight blight in the city. In addition to general discussion, the commission also discussed public concerns.

One argument against the TRLP from the community is that the program is a revenue grab. The commission plans on researching whether the monies collected from the TRLP and inspections should be earmarked by ordinance for use by code enforcement for the prevention and removal of blight, as well as to cover the cost of the program.

A key aspect of the TRLP is that landlords outside of the city must have an operator to help with problems that happen at their properties. The commission agreed on the fact that there are both good and bad landlords within the 25 mile radius that has been established by the program, as well as outside that radius. The commission plans on doing more research on whether the 25 mile radius for an operator should be expanded or eliminated. The commission also asked that the term “operator” be better defined.

The commission also discussed tenant privacy, and how the TRLP can help insure renters feel safe. The commission said that we live in a COVID world, and that the program needs to respect the safety of the public. Discussion was held on whether the rental inspections should be done to only vacant apartments before they are rented, and whether there should be an extended interval for inspections on the properties of renters who stay in the same unit for a prolonged period of time.

With the internet changing how business is done, the rental of homes and apartments have been impacted by services like VRBO and AirBnB. Other municipalities have created ordinances around these online rentals, which fall under short term rental rules. The City had an application for a variance to allow for a home to be used for online rentals, but that request was withdrawn as the City did not have any rules or ordinances in place.

There was discussion about potentially including requirements on insurance for these online rentals in the coming ordinance. It was stated that some other cities have required as much as $1,000,000 in liability policy. The commission wants to look further at whether insurance should be required by the City, how much insurance they should have, and does the City bear any liability if the short term renter does not have adequate insurance.

Short term renters are also supposed to pay taxes on their rentals. The commission asked the question of what can be done to collect the taxes.

The idea of having a license was also discussed, and what potential violations and penalties could be levied and that this needs to be clarified in the ordinance.

The members of the planning commission volunteered to research the topics mentioned above, and present their findings at the commission’s next meeting on Nov. 4.

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