Property Rights legal victory restores vacation rental rights in Venice, Florida

August 07, 2009 (PRLEAP.COM) Travel News
August 7, 2009. Venice, Florida. In a precedent setting legal case over property rights and rental rights, the City of Venice Florida negotiated a settlement with Steve Milo of Vacation Rental Pros Property Management and a group of investors. The city of Venice Florida agreed to pay Milo's group $300,000 in settlement for attorney fees and the diminution in value of properties, and allows the dozen property owners to continue renting their properties on a short term basis for 15 more years.

The three-year battle saw Milo and his group standing alone against the City of Venice Florida to maintain the right to rent single-family dwellings while other property owners simply accepted the fate handed to them.

The case first came to light in 2005 when Milo began advertising a dozen vacation rental properties over the Internet through his web site. At the time, the City of Venice did not have an ordinance preventing the short term rental of vacation homes in the single family districts near the beach. The City used a broad re-interpretation of existing city codes to ban short term vacation rentals.

Steve Milo decided to fight back. Not willing to accept his property rights being stripped away, Milo hired property rights expert Richard Rumrell of the law firm, Rumrell, Costabel, Warrington and Brock.

Rumrell filed suit against the city of Venice, accusing them of infringing on Milo's property rights as well as selectively targeting his properties and violating his civil rights. Last spring a circuit court judge ruled that the city of Venice had acted "erroneously" in interpreting their existing code to ban short term rentals. A few months later, the city lost again in court when a judge determined that the city must cover Mr. Milo's attorney's fees.

In an effort to stem mounting legal costs and expedite a resolution of the case, Andrea Zelman, an attorney for the city, had this to say. "We do have some messy, sloppy facts that reduce the likelihood that the city would win." She urged the Venice City Council to accept the settlement and have the case dismissed before additional depositions and the scheduled trial date in October. The recommendation led to a unanimous vote.

While Milo and his group of property owners recovered money and retained their rights to rent their properties on a short term basis for 15 more years, other Venice property owners lost their rentals rights. On July 17, the Venice City Council passed a new ordinance that banned the practice of short term rentals in single-family residential neighborhoods.

When questioned about the settlement, Milo's attorney Rick Rumrell stated that "Hopefully other governmental bodies will learn from the Venice situation that private property rights are worth fighting for, and that individual citizens are willing and able to fight for those rights." And if the Venice case is any indication, not only fight, but to win.