Vacation Rental Enforcement Ramps Up in Santa Cruz County

Vacation Rental Enforcement Ramps Up in Santa Cruz County

  • Liz Kroft
  • 04/22/24

As a local realtor who specializes in helping clients identify promising properties, and as someone who owns the property management firm Sol Property Management - currently overseeing mid to long-term rentals with considerations of expanding into vacation rental management - I have been closely following the changing landscape surrounding vacation rentals in Santa Cruz County. Recent developments have major implications for investors and property owners in this space.


Public Scrutiny On Display

If you've been keeping tabs on the Santa Cruz County real estate scene, you're likely aware of the long-simmering tensions around proliferating vacation rentals and their impacts on housing supply and affordability. What you may have missed is the county's shift towards far stricter enforcement and new layers of transparency.

A recent zoning administrator's meeting laid bare this new era of policing vacation rentals. Gone are the days when minor violations were brushed aside with just fines or citations privately handled between county staff and rental owners. Now, the gloves are coming off in public hearings.


Consequences for Violations

One seasoned property owner faced the harsh reality of potentially losing her vacation rental license on Seacliff Drive in Aptos due to advertising unpermitted units and improperly listing the property. While avoiding revocation this time, she wasn't so lucky in dodging tougher sanctions like a shorter leash on compliance for the next year.

Other investors weren't as fortunate. An owner in Live Oak had his license revoked for similar infractions, while a permit renewal in Pleasure Point got outright denied after the owner failed to show up and defend their case of over-advertising rental spaces.


Crackdown Catalysts

So what's driving this harder line? You can partly thank the 2020 moratorium on new vacation rental permits that ultimately became neighborhood caps. Concerns over losing long-term rentals to lucrative vacation stock catalyzed this crackdown. Around 20% of vacation units had converted from long-terms at the time.

But the bigger shift came last June when county supervisors voted to scrap the old complaint-driven system in favor of proactive enforcement through third-party listing audits and having staff thoroughly investigate repeat offenders. No more slaps on the wrist.


Related: So You Want To Own A Vacation Rental In Santa Cruz County? Read This.


Protecting Client Interests

I know the immense value these types of vacation rental permits hold for property owners. Losing one is a brutal blow - and may make owning that property less financially feasible. That's why having experienced local representation to skillfully navigate code compliance and changing regulations is so critical now.

At Sol Property Management we're laser-focused on staying ahead of these evolving policies and developing strategies to protect our clients' assets while remaining fully compliant with all county rules. Transparency and open communication with officials is paramount.  


The Long Game

The stakes are high, but this crackdown ultimately protects the broader housing market's health by preserving rental inventory. While painful for some investors in the short-term, enhanced enforcement should inspire confidence that bad actors won't continue undermining the system.

For those still interested in tapping into Santa Cruz County's vacation rental market, now is the time to have all your ducks in a row before making any moves. As your local realtor and property management resource, I'm here to guide you through every step of the way. Let's adapt to this new landscape together.

Whether you're an investor exploring opportunities or a current vacation rental owner needing grievance resolution, reach out to me directly to discuss a personalized game plan. The rules have changed, but the right expertise can keep you poised for success.

Work With Me

With over nine years of full-time experience and more than $114 million in sales across the greater Bay Area, I work tirelessly to be a well-regarded agent, industry innovator, and ambassador for my clients.

Follow On Instagram