The Lake Geneva, Wisconsin city council tried to crack down on the growing problem of transient rentals in unlicensed homes on 1.24.2011 but was stopped by the powerful Wisconsin and County Realtors.
Currently it is illegal to rent to “transients” in homes not zoned commercial for less than 30 days at a time. But according to sources at city hall it is almost impossible to enforce due to the lack of a definition of the term “transient”. The city was trying to define the term according to how it is used at the State of Wisconsin Department of Licensing and bring clarity and uniformity to its ordinances.
Mike VanderBunt, Association Executive for the Lakes Area Realtors Association said the city has a great opportunity to take advantage of transient renters, people want choises, they want alternatives. “When you have three families coming up from Chicago and stay in a house together, instead of getting three hotel rooms often times they want to stay in a house together… and save money. …. It’s not a nuisance, it’s welcomed.”
Royce DeBow, Southeastern Wisconsin Governmental Affairs Director for the Wisconsin Realtors Association stated that renting homes to transients and vacationers was an entrenched practice in the Lake Geneva area. He also mentioned that there was a significant amount of case law from across the country that would suggest that the proposed ordinance might not stand up to any potential legal challenge. “That transients do not pose anymore a threat to local harmony than residents do.”
Sharon Clark, of Keefe Real Estate’s resort rental program and Rob Keefe noted that short-term rentals were deeply rooted in the history of Lake Geneva. Sharon Clark works with renting on short term rental through the Geneva Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. And stated that they partner with the hotels in our short term rental business, and it does not take away from hotels income.
The City Council then tabled second reading amending the Zoning Ordinance to clarify the regulation of free-standing commercial indoor lodging uses and on 1.24.2011 tabled it indefinably with the understanding they will form a committee to study the issue.