SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Short-term vacation rentals (STVRs) are a staple to Savannah’s tourism industry with a large portion of them in the historic district.
That is where Bob Rosenwald lives, and he says he believes some STVR owners are breaking the city’s rules, and he has proof.
“People can find a loophole, and come up with illegal rentals that pop up and disappear, and we have no way really of chasing them, and the whole process is bureaucratic and cumbersome,” said Rosenwald.
In the city’s ordinance, an “owner-occupied residence” is defined as property where the owner is a primary resident, and Rosenwald tells News 3 he believes he has proven neighboring STVR owners, at 232 Price St., are in violation of that rule.
“I’ve done the research on this,” said Rosenwald, “This is not their primary residence. Their primary residence is in Ohio. They vote in Ohio. They take advantage of the Ohio version of our Homestead exemptions to get a tax break on owning their home there.”
Rosenwald says when he gave the city his evidence, a code compliance director told him “The city will not be revoking the STVR certificate,” with city attorney Bates Lovett supposedly in agreement.
“I was flummoxed by it frankly,” said Rosenwald, “I said this doesn’t make any sense, the amount of evidence I have presented to them is more than they ever have when they’re prepared to go after somebody, and they decided not to in this case.”
A spokesperson for the City of Savannah tells News 3:
“The concerns related to 232 Price St. have been investigated and the results have been conveyed to Mr. Rosenwald. There are currently no open cases at that property.”
But Rosenwald told News 3 he is standing firm in what he has found and says he believes there are other rentals close to his home that are also breaking the rules.
“There was one across the street from me that was rented, popped up, and disappeared,” he said.
He says he wants the city to take action and, at the very least, create a better version of the STVR map, which he says is hard to read and does not provide enough information.
“I certainly think it is not complete and not a user-friendly way of tracking where STVRs are and that sort of thing, so there could be a lot more info, so if the city wants residents like me to help enforce we need to have the information readily available,” said Rosenwald.
A spokesperson for the city tells News 3 that the city is on it, with a new STVR monitoring software beginning the first of the year:
“Beginning at the first of the year, the City will utilize a new software, Rentalscape, which will streamline the STVR application process, provide a 24/7 compliance hotline, monitor property addresses for bookings/reservations made on platforms to ensure the properties are in compliance with the City’s ordinances.”
A city spokesperson also tells News 3 that concerned residents should submit any violations to the city through the 311 system, and that code compliance is actively enforcing ordinances.