Election Endorsement for Avila

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After only a little thought, I’m endorsing Orlando Avila for City Commission on December 12th.¬† I did take time to think about the remaining choices.¬† It comes down to a candidate seeking ways to make Fernandina better.¬† ¬†Every candidate should want more than stopping all change or delaying every project.¬† Good candidates should all hope to make Fernandina better, not freeze the town…an impossibility, in my opinion.¬† Change or die is true of every town.¬† ¬†We need candidates willing to learn from the past and reflect that past in decisions going forward.¬† I believe Orlando understands the importance of preserving our town “AND” embracing the economic diversity we all need.

Orlando is an adoptive parent several times over and is engaged in the community.¬† He owns a small business and understands the importance of protecting our local economy, but he also understands the importance of local industry.¬† ¬† I’ve known Orlando for about seven or eight years and he hasn’t changed.¬† I like him and trust him.¬† ¬†As a former Mayor and Commissioner, I feel he has the local history we want to see in a representative and respects both the town’s history as well as our rights as residents.

Taken from Orlando’s Website/Facebook Page…..

“I was born and raised in Orlando, FL to Cuban refugee parents, both escaping Cuba in the 1960s.

I have 3 older half-brothers, 2 of whom have passed away.

My mother is one of 12 children and I come from a large extended family.

I worked my way through college and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a BA in Public Administration

I married my college sweetheart Janel (FBHS class of 1995) in 2000 at St. Michaels Church here in Fernandina and we moved here in 2001 to be closer to her parents and to enjoy a slower pace of life compared to the hustle and bustle of Orlando.

I worked for the State of Florida for about 8 years in several capacities, last as a Probation & Parole Officer.

I left the public service to work in the private sector, going to work for Seaboard Marine in their office here in Fernandina in November 2007

In October 2012 I was faced with Seaboard Marine closing their local office with minimal notice. I decided, with some encouragement from my boss and mentor, to strike out on my own that day. With his assistance I set about incorporating All American Ship Agents, setting up bank accounts and getting all the other necessary things lined up to set off on a new journey of being a business owner.

I walked out of my office that day with a newly formed company, an existing account, and the promise of future business from some new accounts and existing clients.

Then I went home and told my wife.

All the while we were in the midst of finalizing our third adoption.

Needless to say it was a harrowing experience, one that I am better for today than I can begin to explain.

We have struggled and sacrificed and made it work, and we have been able to buy our dream home and make our life here in Fernandina Beach and we wouldn’t have it any other way so when folks ask about why I’m running, it’s because I want everyone to be able to have the opportunities I have had, and through hard work and perseverance achieve goals that were once thought to be so lofty and untenable.”¬† Source:¬†https://www.facebook.com/Orlando4Fernandina/ 11/19/17

 

 

Not in my backyard!

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It seems to be increasingly rare to move to a town and understand everything changes.¬† The average newcomer wants to freeze Fernandina…just as it was when they chose to live on the island. I’ve lived here for most of my life and the only constant thing is change.¬† Back in the 60’s, we were a far different place.¬† Through the 70’s and development of South Amelia, the growth to a 6 lane highway from Yulee in 2017/18, and diminishing of the shrimp fleet, a lot changed!¬† I remember the drawbridge and a fraction of the restaurants we see now.¬† I remember the first condominiums and driving the entire beach, including behind Fort Clinch.

The recent election was the last Fernandina Beach election with three year terms.¬† ¬†Voter turnout was low and electing representation with only 25% of the registered voters is terrible!¬† I hope to see better turnouts in the future and a more consistent commission when every other year is election and politics free.¬† ¬†The NIMBY title has to do with the choices people make when they move here and then begin to think about a commissioner.¬† ¬†Being against things is easy.¬† I’m against a few things.¬† When shifting to the mode you should be in as a commissioner, plans for something better are important.¬† Do we want a representative to simply look for new ways to slow change?¬† A few years ago, I ran for office and can remember why I chose to run.¬† ¬†The commission seemed disfunctional and I could see the public annoyance over the way change was being managed. ¬†Decisions are good or bad and judging from the sidelines can be equivalent to being a back seat driver with a partial view.¬† Once elected, I became informed.¬† ¬†Positions I thought were reasonable before, were no longer so reasonable and people insisting it was all wrong only made sense part of the time.¬† ¬†My point is that wearing the hat makes a big difference. Being elected means being willing to learn.

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My advice is to carefully consider candidates.¬† If you see a candidate willing to hear you and “agenda free”, you’re probably looking at a potentially good candidate.¬† If you see someone with a personal ax to grind, being impartial in a meeting is not likely.¬† ¬†Candidates run, myself included, sometimes because they want to change something and hope to make something better.¬† Good candidates have ideas.¬† Bad candidates want to stop what they see as negative progress, not because they hope to make the town better, but because they bring a personal agenda to an issue.

This is opinion, but based on years of watching Fernandina and time in office to consider how I might learn to be a better commissioner.


Thoughts and Good Choices
  • Vested interest in Fernandina
  • Not an activist.
  • Not unusually litigious…costs the taxpayer eventually.
  • Ideas for things, not against things.
  • Vote for the candidates, not against a personality.
  • Look at their past history, work, legal, etc.
  • Understand limit of position. Set policy, not running of city day to day.
  • Does personal background bring anything to the office? My background in real estate, contracting. degree and native to Amelia Island was a good match.
  • How long have they lived on the island and do they have a financial interest? Align interests and they work for us 24 hours a day.
  • Will they stick to the job or go off on tangents? No need to explain….just focus on Fernandina.
  • Last, I usually avoid candidates with an ego. They feel entitled and stop listening. That said, I have endorsed based on aligned interests, intelligence and time living here, even if the ego is a little strong.

Airport Terminal Construction Takes Off…….‚úą

Typical Airport in Lake City…Amazing Building

I’ve heard some interesting comments on the airplane shaped terminal building being built at the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport.¬† I don’t agree with

Original Concept Drawing for Fernandina’s New Building

the design choice and feel the price is likely higher to build a custom airplane shape.¬† While the idea of building a terminal was approved when I was in office…the building morphed from a building closer to, what I thought would be similar to the Lake City building on the right to the Airplane shape on the left.¬† Design discussion began in January of 2016, about a month after I left office.¬† Does it fly?¬† No, but the cost is a “LOT” higher than the 2 million range we felt would be more than enough to build a great building.¬† ¬†In my opinion, the cost and any delays, will be based on the unusual design choices.¬† Does it matter if the building looks like an airplane?¬† Do we see an additional $2.5 million dollars of utility?¬† Grant money or not, I don’t like waste.¬† ¬†Airports seem to thrive on matching money for grants.¬† DOT, FAA…look at the resolution below and over $2.8 million in grant funding.¬† ¬†Spending money on a building in advance….could this overage have a much bigger future impact on the airport as money ordinarily used for airport grant match is committed for this structure?

Considering future developments and grant money used for infrastructure on the other side of the airport, does this change the airport’s future and is past expense now wasted?

SYNOPSIS: In October, 2015, the City Commission approved execution of a Fixed Base Operator Use and Lease Agreement authorizing Eight Flags Aviation, LLC to operate as a fixed base operator as of April 1, 2018, in the City’s new terminal building. The City Commission also approved a contract to construct a new Airport Terminal, which will be occupied by Airport staff and rented by Eight Flags Aviation, LLC, a fixed base operator. Eight Flags Aviation has offered financial contributions, in the form of prepaid rent to be repaid in rent credits over time (50% of rent offset in rent credits and 50% rent paid to City by Eight Flags), toward the design and construction of the new terminal¬†¬† ¬†and¬†¬† ¬†other¬†¬† ¬†Airport¬†¬† ¬†improvements,¬†¬† ¬†including¬†¬† ¬†upgrades¬†¬† ¬†to¬†¬† ¬†the¬†¬† ¬†fuel¬†¬† ¬†farm¬†¬† ¬†and¬†¬† ¬†ramp¬†¬† ¬†apron¬†¬† ¬†improvements.¬† ¬†Source: www.fbfl.org 11/9/17

GenFile (10)

Interesting reading….but an early or the first design meeting.

 

Snip of original welcome center planning minutes and attendance….see full pdf below.

2016 01-14 Airport Welcome Center Planning Committee Minutes

Tax Deeds and Auction Process is Fair

Post Office Renovations….will this eventually be an auction property?

So, you’re interested in buying a property at auction?¬† The process is often misunderstood, but the bidding is actually the simple part.¬† Consider the title and other debt potentially remaining after the sale.¬† ¬†One part of the process, often misunderstood, is the purchase.¬† Tax sales come after the sale of a tax certificate for unsold taxes.¬† After a period of time, the investor has the right to ask to be repaid.

If someone buys a certificate on a property, the certificate holder has no claim on the property, however, two years after taxes became delinquent, the certificate holder can place a Tax Deed Application on your property. (Example Р2017 unpaid taxes which had a certificate sold by June 1st of 2018, can have a Tax Deed Application made on it beginning on April 1st, 2020). After a tax deed is made, the property will be scheduled for auction and sold to the highest bidder.  The process insures a property cannot be sold immediately after taxes are unpaid, but the tax collection does move forward in a timely manner.  The clock is ticking when you fail to pay and everyone should take unpaid taxes seriously.  Typical reasons a property might actually be auctioned for unpaid taxes can include a death of an owner without heirs, unpaid liens exceeding the value of the property, loans exceeding the value or even environmental issues.  An owner, in my opinion, rarely chooses to lose a property for unpaid taxes without years of warning and that same time to seek a buyer on the open market.

The Clerk‚Äôs office is not authorized to give legal advice or assist in the research of properties. All properties are sold ‚Äúas is,‚ÄĚ and bidders are responsible for conducting their own research as to the condition of the property and the state of the title of the property being sold. If you require legal advice, you should obtain it from a licensed attorney. ¬† For each piece of property purchased, the successful high bidder is required to pay a non-refundable deposit equal to 5 percent of the final bid or $200, whichever is greater, at the time of the sale. If the successful bidder fails to immediately post the deposit, the bid is deemed invalid and the bidding starts over.Once the bidding starts, it cannot be interrupted. If you win the bid, you can pay only with cash.In accordance with state law, the highest bidder has 24 hours to pay any costs associated with the sale. However, the Clerk’s Office encourages payment be made the same business day as the sale in an attempt to expedite the processing of sale.This is a sale of the Clerk’s interest in the property, not necessarily a clear and marketable title to the property.For more information on Tax Deed Sales, call the Recording Department at 904-548-4604.Tax Deed Sale Information is now available at the following link: Tax Deeds¬† ¬†Source: NASSAU COUNTY CLERK OF COURTS & COMPTROLLER

The red text above is why a client buying at auction often calls my office.¬† I may not be able to assist with title issues, but I do have access to market information.¬† I’m usually able to give an opinion of market value, discuss repairs needed and offer an opinion of time to sell.¬† I typically provide automated estimates of value and “Net to Seller” estimates to give a buyer a better feel for their potential profit if they are the successful bidder.¬† I also know local attorneys willing to research the title and offer their opinion prior to a purchase.¬† I would always recommend a good look at any available surveys, environmental information and thorough research of the debt potentially remaining after a purchase.¬† ¬†Auctions can be profitable or an expensive mistake and even professionals can make a mistake without the proper research.

8th Street 100×100…C-3 Zoned….Not so Hidden Gem

A few opportunites get even better.¬† This property is near major changes along 8th Street.¬† The old Fred’s location is within a block, the site itself is between two of the best restaurants on the island and between the two best places for burgers and fries.

What does this location have going for it?

  • Recent changes to C-3 Zoning increasing density.
  • Three separate areas in the building…Studio, Food service area and Offices.
  • Room to expand.
  • 100×100 lot…much larger than most historic district lots.
  • Proximity to great businesses drawing traffic.
  • 8th Street location…most traffic going to the Historic District passes by this spot.
  • MU-8 overlay before you reach this spot should improve the entry.
  • Price…I challenge you to find a better location at this price.

Easy to show, I’m usually in the area or able to set something up on short notice.¬† Feel free to call my mobile or have your agent reach out.¬† ¬†The hood remains, but no other equipment is included at this price.

904-556-7554  Ed Boner РLic Real Estate Broker

Trees and Responsibility…Thoughts

This question comes up every few years.¬† With smaller lots and neighboring roofs nearing property lines, trees on one property can become an annoyance to the neighbor.¬† Whether we’re talking about blocked sunlight, a roof or a pool filling with dead leaves, this is a very common complaint.¬†¬† Generally, not including subdivision or local tree ordinances, you are usually entitled to trim limbs hanging over the property line and no further.¬† If the trimming would kill the tree or cause some unusual harm to the tree, it would be prudent to have the work done by a tree surgeon and permitted, if needed, with your local municipality.¬† How common is the issue?¬† I’ve been approached at least once a year, either with a question or by a neighbor,¬† since I started working in this industry.¬† ¬†How do I prune a neighbor’s tree or will you please cut limbs hanging over the property line?

The ‚Äúcommon sense‚ÄĚ rules below often applies to trimming.¬†¬† Keep in mind any conflicts or permits required by local ordinance.

  • The tree can only be trimmed to the property line.
  • There is no right to trespass on a neighbor‚Äôs property to trim, unless limbs threaten to cause immediate and irreparable harm.
  • The tree cannot be destroyed or cut down‚Ķ.only trimmed.
  • The expense for the trimming is born by the¬† party doing the trimming.¬† Source: www.abor.com or http://www.abor.com/blog-trees-fences-neighbors/ 8/14/17

Branches and roots frequently extend across property lines. Whether a branch or root from a tree on an adjacent landowner’s property is the responsibility of the landowner with the tree located on his or her property or the landowner of the property to which the branches overhang or roots encroach depends upon the branches or roots themselves. If the branches or roots are healthy, then the landowner with the tree located on his or her property is not liable for damage caused by the branches or roots. The adjoining landowner may, at his or her own expense, trim back the branches or roots as he or she desires up to the property line. If the branches are dead, however, then the landowner with the tree located on his or her property is responsible and could be liable for damages caused by the branches (1 Fla. Jur 2d Adjoining Landowners section 8 [2014]).¬† Source: FE962/FE962: Handbook of Florida Fence and Property Law: Trees and Landowner Responsibility

In Fernandina Beach, we have a long history of protecting canopy.¬†¬† Our tree protection ordinance is something you should read before trimming or cutting a tree.¬† One past client called someone sheimage assumed was a licensed tree surgeon.¬†¬† The removed a live oak tree with a substantial diameter.¬†¬†¬† About a month later, she left the state for a trip, only to return to a fine, notices on the door and substantial penalty.¬†¬† The “tree surgeon” was not based in Fernandina and declined to reappear.¬†¬† Her fines were in the thousands and she replanted numerous trees in the nearby area.¬†¬† While the fine seems harsh, the community benefits from protection of an urban canopy and fines are sometimes the only way to encourage protection.¬† It is also important to read your HOA documents carefully.¬†¬† Local ordinance or association restrictions may limit your ability to cut limbs or may require use of an arborist.¬†¬† A local community with requirements to approve permanent changes to landscape or with rules related to maintaining street trees is Amelia Park.¬† Amelia Park Neighborhood Association Rules & Regulations require review of permanent changes and, since they are located inside city limits, the Fernandina Beach tree ordinance also applies.

If you want to read more, the handbook linked below includes a nice summary and also lists decisions related to disputes and trees.  This post should not be considered legal advice and there is no substitute for an attorney, current survey, arborist as required or qualified professional.   Regardless, in my experience, talking over concerns with your neighbor is a good first step.  I’ve been approached over issues of branches, leaves in a gutter from a tree, leaves in a driveway, limbs, a fallen tree during a storm and even a dead tree.  In an area with tree ordinances, permitting fees and replanting at an inch for inch basis, breaking the rules in removing a problem tree/limb can be expensive.

Additional Related Reading/Links:

Unlocking Development of Underutilized Commercial Parcels – Key to Unlock CRA

How do we encourage the use of prime property?  We all benefit from the tax revenue, jobs and economic impact, but finding a way to trigger the use is the real key.  Sometimes a small change moves an entire area forward. The corner of 2nd and Alachua looks nearly the same as it did 10 years ago, with a few changes.   We all think of the Standard Marine building, but this is only one example.    Looking at the expansion of the marina northward, multiple properties in the CRA and in the historic district, benefit.

What is a CRA?
Redevelopment – Its the “revitalization” of a public area. AND, the “preservation” of a community’s history.¬†It’s about building cohesiveness within “our community.”

Community Redevelopment Agency (‚ÄúCRA‚ÄĚ) refers to a public entity created by a city or county to implement the community redevelopment activities outlined under the Community Redevelopment Act which was enacted in 1969 (Chapter 163, Part III, Florida Statutes). The CRA is established by the local government and functions within that local government. The City Commision sits as the Community Redevelopment Agency and makes all final decisions on actions or expenditures within the CRA (area).¬† Source: City of Fernandina Beach¬†http://www.fbfl.us/757/Community-Redevelopment-Area-CRA 10/25/17

Redevelopment encourages more redevelopment….

Looking at the Standard Marine property at 101 North 2nd Street, this is an example of an almost criminally underutilized site.¬† With a view of the water, using the property is handicapped by missing access to a “beautiful waterfront”….we may soon see.¬† Look at the map.¬† The properties outlined in red are either on the market and would benefit by an opening of the access at Alachua Street or are on the market and would be far more likely to sell.¬† All outlined properties are underutilized.

Starting with the standard marine building, this is a massive property with potential for high-end residential units or perhaps a mixed use.   Vacant, it is likely bringing in 1/20th of the tax revenue and none of the economic impact a development would bring to Fernandina Business.

The hotel site at the SE corner of Alachua and 2nd Street is another example.¬† Stalled based on the cost, I think some of the delay is based on uncertainty over Alachua’s opening.¬† Why would anyone invest millions in a hotel, when access to the water and traffic flow is an uncertainty.¬† Hotel guests want a view, but they also want access and easy traffic flow.¬† Creating a traffic nightmare because you can’t agree on a simple street crossing…..well, it doesn’t make sense.

Source: Nassau County Property Appraiser http://maps2.roktech.net/NassauTaxMap/# or www.nassauflpa.com 10/25/17

The old Picker’s Market at 201 Alachua Street and 116 North 2nd Street, the property immediately behind it, is another substantial corner.¬† Both on the market as of this writing, the total asking price is $1,539,000.00…not bad, when you consider the size and density bonus from 375 feet of street frontage.

Beyond the site above, several other properties have been or will be on the market and should benefit.¬† Most are inside the CRA boundary and would create the cash flow needed for waterfront improvements, but also an economic impact often overlooked.¬† The Hampton downtown pays over $144,000 each year.¬† Consider projects moving forward, potentially after an Alachua Street opening.¬† I can easily see $20,000,000 in added taxable value from highest and best use redevelopment of the three larger sites and tax revenue increases in the neighborhood of $400,000.00/year.¬† Source:¬†http://cloudapp.roktech.net/NassauSearch_Staging/TaxEstimator.aspx¬† Assuming we continue to see increases, this is well over $4,000,000.00 in tax revenues in 10 years and we still haven’t considered economic impact.¬† ¬†Small towns have a kind of synergy and economic impact, employment and diverse uses, all feed the vitality of a business district.¬† Seeing the Historic District as a tourism driver makes certain improvements logical.¬† Using those projects to finance improvements is, literally, what CRA’s are created to accomplish.¬† Compare the pictures of the Hampton and a comparable location, challenged by lack of access to an improved waterfront, north of Center Street.

 

Friday Thoughts

One of my former clients, a friend, is in the hospital and has been for the last few days.¬† We talked about it several times, but he never took the time to have his attorney prepare any of the documents you think of, when considering an estate plan.¬† Estate plans aren‚Äôt just about leaving a will or dying.¬† I‚Äôve been through the ‚Äúend of life‚ÄĚ process with several family members and it was never the same, but I would imagine it is much more difficult with absolutely no paperwork.¬†¬† Who pays the bills during an illness?¬† What happens if you‚Äôre unable to consent to treatment?¬† What happens if you would prefer not to have treatment?¬† Everyone should think about consulting an attorney to update your plan or make a plan.¬†¬† Leaving absolutely nothing in place is difficult for your family and for you, especially if you haven‚Äôt left anyone designated to help or preferences.

Since the April, I’ve been following a fitness and diet regimen.   A few friends have been seriously ill and I began to notice some warning signs personally.   My blood pressure moved up a little and I was not happy with my resting heart rate. Over the last 6 months, I began logging everything.  Exercise was meticulously entered into a program and every bite passing my lips went on the log.   Today, I’m 53 pounds lighter and spend an hour in the gym almost every day.   Work is easier and I notice improvements in every part of my life.   One of the issues with real estate or any self-employed career choice, is time management.  Without a plan in place and consistency, we all gradually slip into poor choices.  I made a few more changes and treated fitness like another appointment, but it worked.   I’m down in weight, but my heart rate dropped into the 40’s, blood pressure is in perfect range and I feel 10 years younger.    Being a broker is social, but can be pretty isolating.  Time management to budget time for your health or down time is as important as time you spend on the phone or computer….much more if you plan to have a long career.

2018 looks interesting.  I’m making plans for a small development, with a personal project and new relationship with a local builder.  Technology is also changing in a way I see as beneficial to my office and routine.   The more technology improves, the more I feel small offices have an advantage.  I read an article earlier on integrations possible and coming, allowing SIRI to become a bigger part of the sales process.   AI or artificial intelligence is interesting to me.  I’m not trying to say SIRI is the same as AI, but augmenting everything we do and integrating mobile or wearable devices is akin to changing an attachment on a tool.    Think about some of the ways we connect with people and how our lives become more efficient.   I spend time each day reading through automatically curated stories, based on content I like or search.  Every web experience is a bit of automated content or augments something.  The changes to facial recognition from Apple, augmented reality and talk about AI are getting my attention.  The coming year looks interesting and it isn’t a question of whether I’ll look for personal upgrades, but which I can afford to leave out.

Thinking about ethics again, it is worth periodically reading over portions of the standards of practice for the National Association of REALTORS¬ģ.¬† While ‚Äúdoing unto others‚ÄĚ sounds simple, the perception of behavior is often different from one side of the transaction to another.¬† I think avoiding the perception is important, if the goal is to promote professional behavior.¬†¬† Ethics don‚Äôt need an upgrade, but we do need to think about new circumstances and perception.

2016 Presidential Election Cost and Angry Taxpayer

You love Trump or you hate Trump.¬† I don’t seem to see many moderate views of the presidency this year, but there is an excessive coverage of the “so called” Russian interference in the election.¬† ¬†The amount in question appears to be about $100,000, with 56% of the money spent after voting day.¬† This means the actual dollars spent during the election, when an outcome could actually change, is about $44,000!¬† Of that $44,000, how much is purely pro-Trump, apparently the only concerning part of an unspecified Russian buying advertising?

The nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics estimates spending on the Clinton-Trump contest at more than $2.65 billion, actually down a bit from $2.76 billion in 2012 when Democratic incumbent Barack Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney.   Trump, a real estate tycoon, bought fewer ads than many experts predicted because he benefited from huge amounts of free press.

Source: Election 2016’s price tag: $6.8 billion – CBS News

Spending so low as a percentage, it isn’t visible on my graph!

The odd part of the $44,000 is that a part of that money was actually meant to support Black Lives Matter in Ferguson and Baltimore.¬† My thoughts are that BLM is probably not pro-Trump. I would take two thoughts from the numbers and kinds of ads purchased.¬† Russian ads were meant to create chaos and waste in our country.¬† We are spending how much on the investigation of $44000 in Russian Ads?¬† Does anyone think we are making anything better by spending tax money on the issue?¬† I don’t think we should allow foreign countries to disrupt our elections, but I also think it is beyond stupidity to waste many, many, many times the cost of the ads in question.¬† The point of the ads was to generate disruption, IMHO, and they were, apparently, very effective.¬† Influencing the election with $44000 was, if you consider the .0016% spending, just not possible. The expense and time congress is spending on the issue is significant.¬† Our government is not moving forward and is over-reacting to a tiny expenditure, meant to do exactly what is happening, in my opinion.

Our country is wasting time doing something unproductive, Congress is increasingly dysfunctional and our tax money is being wasted.¬† I’d like to see a health care solution, among other things.¬† So many real problems and we’re spending time investigating something likely intended to create division?¬† I’d say that $44,000 was the most effective bit of advertising in history, but it had a statistically infinitesimal impact on the actual election result.

Signs of an Illegal Rental

If you rent, short or long-term, did you ever wonder if you were illegally renting?¬† ¬†Reading through an article on illegally permitted rental property, I began to think about just how many properties might be illegal on Amelia Island.¬† ¬†A few I’ve experienced or heard of in the past are included below, along with some of the reasons you might choose to avoid the “illegal” route as a tenant or owner.¬† ¬†¬†Rentals or any occupied building is regulated to insure public safety and the safety of anyone providing a service to the resident.¬† Consider a residential fire.¬† ¬†Can the residents be evacuated safely and can the police or fire department safely enter and exit the building?

Woodford 3/4 in. x 3/4 in. Brass Add-On Hose Connection Vacuum Breaker

Outside Spigot Backflow Preventer from Home Depot Source: www.homedepot.com 10/14/17

IMG_4423[1]

Legal Long Term Rental or Home

Warning signs of an illegal rental aren’t always obvious.¬† I’ve seen garages with interior wall conversions, a pretty good bet you may be dealing with an illegal partitioning, but far more likely when the door still opens.¬† ¬†Commercial space offered as either residential or commercial might be a sign.¬† Changing use usually means a change to match current code.¬† ¬†Storage buildings or buildings like a detached garage with shared power might be a sign.¬† Is there a separate electric meter?¬† ¬†Do you see permits for daily or weekly rental?¬† These should be visible in city limits, but all short-term rentals should have posted permits, exit diagrams, emergency lighting and backflow preventers.¬† If you don’t notice a few of these, the rental might not be legal.

Are you dealing with the actual owner of the property or their agent?  I hate to think about fraud, but it is common.   Make sure you have some proof the person offering to rent is actually the owner.  Renting remotely, be careful to check for either a company website and licensing or read the feedback if using a site like VRBO.

Everyone wants to rent or buy a safe home, but what happens when a portion of a home is converted into a second “illegal to rent” space?¬† ¬† Thinking about building code, fire walls, separately wired units, window and exit openings and proper access are all required for a reason.¬† I can think of one property with single family zoning and, at one time, 4 to 6 illegal units.¬† The residents were walking up an illegal stairway, to access an unpermitted addition in an attic storage area.¬† ¬†I doubt the property had firewalls, more than one electric meter or even adequate sanitation systems.

Resort rentals are another thought.¬† While it is legal to rent short-term inside city limits, a permit and either the proper zoning or a grandfathered property is required.¬† Buying a rental property based on short-term income can be unpleasant if the property isn’t actually legally permitted for short-term rentals.¬† ¬†The same can be said for long-term rentals or seasonal rentals of more than 30 days.¬† If the units fall short in some way, the income you planned to use for a loan or as investment income, might not be so stable.

Converted commercial space or grandfathered spaces illegally converted are a little less common, but do exist.¬† I can think of one space used as a restaurant, but illegally rented as residential space for some time.¬† The property was sold and completely remodeled a short time later, but the owner was taking a dangerous risk The downstairs pub was actually using power from the upstairs apartment.¬† ¬†Paying the much higher bill finally, as I understand, drew attention to the intermingled wiring and confused billing.¬† ¬†Think about liability for the wiring, insurance, signing a lease for an illegal use…so many risks for an owner!