'The Mansion' highlights problems in Bradenton with vacation rentals

skennedy@bradenton.comMarch 14, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Russell Brantley said he may have to move because a vacation rental home called "The Mansion" in his residential neighborhood has become a nuisance.

Brantley's backyard along a leafy block near Palma Sola Elementary was quiet until a dilapidated house at 703 71st St. N.W. was bought in 2011, and turned into a vacation rental, he said.

It was advertised at homeaway.com as "The Mansion," with a minimum weekly stay costing between $1,900-$2,500, depending on the season.

"Sixty to seventy percent of the renters are usually families, and you get noise till 10 p.m.," said Brantley, a retired press room superintendent whose backyard faces the house. "The other 40 percent are into the wee hours, drinking, carrying on, bad language, playing radios.

"We're going to have to move from our home," he said, partly in order to shield his grandchildren from the partying.

Although Brantley has lived in his house since 1973, he and his wife are now house-hunting elsewhere, he said Thursday.

"This has been a very good neighborhood," he added.

Two neighbors who live near the vacation rental said they had not been disturbed.

"It's a little noisy back there," said Michael Bartels, a printer who lives around the corner from the house. "I don't object."

The house was in poor condition when it changed hands, and Bartels said he was glad it had been renovated.

"It's not rented all the time," he added.

A neighbor who lives across the street from The Mansion said he had not been disturbed.

"It's usually a family every week," said retiree Richard Rose.

In 2011, lawmakers passed H.B. 883, which forbade local governments from "regulating, restricting or prohibiting" vacation rentals, with some grandfathered exceptions.

But this year as the Florida Legislature continues in Tallahassee, lawmakers are discussing bills that would repeal it and restore regulatory powers to local governments after hearing complaints that vacation rentals are degrading residential neighborhoods with noise, trash and parking dilemmas.

The mansion, located in a single-family neighborhood, has a total assessed value of $216,879, according to the Manatee County Property Appraiser's website.

It boasts six bedrooms, all with private bathrooms, and can sleep 22, according to an ad at homeaway.com.

It also has a laundry room, pool, pool deck, outdoor pool kitchen, billiards room, and game room, the ad said.

"The Mansion was ideal for the 20 of us. It was big enough that we were not stepping on each other, but not too big that we got lost inside," wrote a renter named Cindi, from New Holland, Pa., who stayed in the house in December 2012, according to the Homeaway website.

The vacation rental is owned by Carol Vibert, who was listed as an officer of Paradise Resort Inc., according to Manatee County and state records.

The company's registered agent is Spiegel & Utrera, P.A., of Miami, state records said.

Calls seeking comment from the Miami firm's principals were not returned Thursday.

Officials representing Manatee County communities are supporting bills that would repeal H.B. 883, while the Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association, representing owners of vacation rental homes, opposes repeal.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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