Las Sendas OKs short-term rent restrictions

·4 min read

Jun. 28—Residents of the northeast Mesa community of Las Sendas have voted to dramatically reduce homeowners' options for renting out their houses.

With passage of an amendment to the community's to amend their neighborhood Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, or CC&Rs, people wanting to rent a house in Las Sendas will be required to sign a lease of at least 31 days.

The amendment is aimed at short-term rentals particularly on online platforms like AirBnb and VRBO that led to a series of ongoing problems for full-time residents who suddenly found themselves living next to "party houses."

The current lack of restrictions has led to alcohol-infused revelers coming in for a weekend, partying late into the night, disturbing families and misusing community amenities in a development that was never designed for short-term renters.

The Las Sendas HOA, which publicly endorsed the amendment, required that 75% of all homeowners vote "Yes" for passage.

According to a letter to residents from Las Sendas Community Association board President Tony Reid, the amendment forbids owners from advertising homes for lease as vacation rentals or using them as timeshares or fractional interest properties.

There is a 180-day grace period through Dec. 17 before the amendment will be enforced to give homeowners enough time to determine the best course of action for their homes.

The amendment has been certified as approved by the Maricopa County recorder.

A total 3,090 votes were cast with 2,604 in favor of the proposed amendment and 486 votes against it.

Brett and Erica Russo, who live next to a 4,200-square-foot rental house advertised as able to "sleep 20" were thrilled with the vote.

"We were delighted," Brett Russo said. "We know there are going to be challenges, but we hope that the short-term rental people convert their houses either for sale to regular buyers, or they rent them within the parameters of the ruling."

HOA board member Linda Barton said that while the association is not opposed to people renting out their houses, it does oppose the type of behavior that typically accompanies short-term weekend rentals.

That behavior has become so troublesome in Scottsdale, where there are more than 5,000 short-term rentals, that it is forming a special police unit to address neighborhood complaints.

"People coming here for a long weekend to party, and to create disturbances in our neighborhoods," Barton said. "That is what we are trying to eliminate in our community because we see ourselves as a residential community." "We don't think the hotel type usage is appropriate."

Barton said the issues that typically accompany short-term renters are absent when people sign a two- or three-month lease and stay for a season.

Russo has a laundry list of disturbances that he says he and his family face every weekend, from bachelor, bridal and adult birthday parties, to graduations and even a 16 player youth baseball team staying for the weekend.

People who opposed the amendment said the vote violates their property rights and that the HOA board is collecting homeowner dues and then telling people what they can and can't do with their houses.

Colin and Shannon Preston, who own a house in Las Sendas but live primarily in Oregon and rent out their house through Arizona Vacation Home Rentals, said that while she empathizes with people who are living next store to "party houses," that is not why they bought their Las Sendas residence.

"Our intention was to be down there as much as we possibly could," Shannon Preston said.

But they curtailed their visits when the pandemic hit.

"In my experience, the people that are staying in these higher-end houses, they are paying a lot of money to stay there," Shannon Preston said. "They are not there to party. They are there to have a relaxing time. In our particular case, we have signs posted all over our house that say be mindful of the neighbors and realize that they are not on vacation like you are," Preston said.

She and other opponents favored stiffer fines or other penalties for renters who violate noise and other neighborhood ordinances, rather than an all-out ban on short term leases.

While Barton says the board is not against people renting out their homes, they are opposed to the short term setup as it currently stands, she says, due to the type of people who show up for a weekend, versus two or three months.

"We think that if we eliminate those shorter term rentals people who come here for a month, or two months or three months will come to our community and act like residents of the community and respect the amenities and their neighbors," Barton said.

At an elevation of 1,700 feet, Las Sendas backs up to the Tonto National Forest and has long been sought by homeowners for its elevation, slightly cooler temperatures, sweeping views of the Phoenix metro area and wildlife. It has also become an increasingly popular tourist destination during the short-term rental uptick.