How to Avoid Losing Your South Lake Tahoe Vacation Rental Permit

By Sarah Velasquez, InvitedHome Lake Tahoe Real Estate Manager

The Changing Landscape of South Lake Tahoe's VHR Industry

Everything you need to know

The latest news out of South Lake Tahoe is that it’s become a quagmire for both VHR owners and guests. Owners are fearful of losing their City of South Lake Tahoe vacation rental permits, guests are leery of traveling to the “City of $1,000 Parking Tickets,” and VHR investors are questioning whether Tahoe is still the shining city on a hill in the world of short-term rentals.

We’re here to tell you that all is not lost. If you know how to navigate these new regulatory waters, there’s enormous potential for higher rental revenues in South Lake Tahoe.

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The current state of Lake Tahoe vacation rentals

We’ve been watching the situation closely and crunching the latest numbers that have been released by the City of South Lake Tahoe. Here’s what we’ve found. 

In May 2018, the City of South Lake Tahoe VHR Enforcement group dealt with 50 complaints, up from 23 in April and 19 in March. Of these, 36 percent were proactive enforcement measures to track down homes without proper South Lake Tahoe VHR permits. In every instance but one, this led to a citation for an unpermitted vacation rental.

The VHR Enforcement group is actively looking on Airbnb for listings in South Lake Tahoe, then checking if they have the proper signage out front. This alone should make it obvious: Don’t advertise your home as a vacation rental without having the proper permits.

The city currently has a cap on VHRs outside of the “Tourist Core” area of 1,400. (Outlined in red on the map to the right, courtesy of the City of SLT.) This has created a VHR permit waitlist of about two years at the time of writing.

32 percent of complaints were for excessive noise and hot tub use, while another 30 percent were for parking violations. Per the definition in the City Ordinance, parking violations are issued for any street parking, parking in any undesignated areas (such as lawns), or exceeding the maximum car occupancy listed in the VHR permit.

This is in response to the new, stricter ordinances that went into place on December 22, 2017. Here is a breakdown of these new laws:

  • A minimum fine of $1,000 will be enforced and issued to both the homeowner/property manager and the guest. 
  • If an owner receives three fines in a 24-month period, they will lose their VHR permit and not be allowed to renew. Instead, they’ll be forced to apply for a new permit, and wait in the back of the 2-year line. 
  • No excessive noise between the hours of 10pm and 8am. 
  • Beginning August 1, 2018, police will begin issuing citations to any VHR that doesn’t have a bear box for trash. 
  • As an owner, you are legally required to inform guests about these new ordinances, and that they must comply with VHR Ordinance.

The future of vacation rentals in South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County

In June 2018, the Tahoe Neighborhoods Group collected and submitted enough signatures (1,636) to get an initiative on November’s ballot to remove the 1,400 vacation rentals that are currently permitted outside the Tourist Core.

If this measure passes and your vacation rental is outside the tourist core, you will lose your permit. The law would then specify that anyone who lives in their South Lake Tahoe residence for a majority of the year can rent out their home for up to 30 days.

Similar attitudes are spreading throughout El Dorado County, too. Our South Lake Tahoe team recently attended the second reading regarding potential new laws and found that an in-person inspection of the home will be required to obtain a VHR permit in the county. Similar occupancy guidelines will be enforced between the hours of 10pm and 8am.

The fine structure is slightly different than that of South Lake Tahoe’s, though. A first violation comes with a fine of $500, which rises incrementally to $750 and $1,000 for second and third violations, respectively.

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How InvitedHome Can Help Protect Your VHR Permit

We manage dozens of luxury vacation rentals in Lake Tahoe, and even amid this period of higher enforcement, none of our homes have received a single citation for noise, hot tub use, or occupancy issues. We have received one parking citation, however this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We appealed the citation for our homeowner, and when the city of South Lake Tahoe learned about all our proactive measures to comply with the VHR Ordinance, they were very impressed.

So how have we attained such good standing with the City of South Lake Tahoe? Here’s our approach, in short:

  • Continuously build neighbor and community relations. Our on-the-ground Tahoe team is attending every municipal meeting, speaking to as many community members as possible, reaching out to our neighbors, and staying involved in the community in various ways. We want to be the neighbor we all wish we had, and that only comes through personal relationships. 
  • Technology. We’ve partnered with NoiseAware to monitor the decibel levels in our South Lake Tahoe homes. If they rise too high, NoiseAware and InvitedHome work proactively to inform guests they’re being too loud. On nearly every occasion, guests are apologetic when we reach out, and the issue is completely resolved without involving the police. 
  • Guest screening. Our guests go through a thorough, two-part guest screening process that is meant to corroborate every bit of information they tell us the first time with everything they tell us in our follow-up call. It’s a strategy that has worked phenomenally to cut down on unwanted guest behavior. 
Vacation rental homeownership should be a joy for you, but that shouldn’t come at any cost to your neighbors or the community. Let InvitedHome manage your South Lake Tahoe vacation rental, and we’ll ensure your home stays in good standing with the neighborhood, prevent you from receiving citations, and protect your VHR permit so you can continue to bring in rental revenue.

Get in touch with our Owner Consultants or Real Estate Manager, or head over to our Lake Tahoe Property Management page to learn more.

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