CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - Earlier this week, the Clear Lake City Council amended an ordinance to raise the permit fee for vacation rentals. That move gave landlords fits. We're learning the city might be changing course.
The permit was originally $150 and the vote this week would have raised that to $500. Local property owners who rent their homes on AirBnB and VRBO were not happy about the decision, but now they could be getting some relief.
"We were a little surprised and felt like it was a little inconsiderate to propose a 233 percent increase in annual fees for vacation rental owners," said Jessica Wood.
Wood and her husband own several homes around Clear Lake. She says most of her family's income comes from out-of-towners looking for a place to stay.
"Vacation rental owners have been hit pretty hard by the COVID pandemic. We went an entire month with no rentals," said Wood.
KIMT News 3 learned on Friday afternoon, Clear Lake is throwing out the increase and the ordinance entirely.
City administrator Scott Flory said in a statement, "The City just learned that, effective July 1, 2020, The State of Iowa passed a law that eliminates cities and counties abilities to require a permit or license for short term rentals, such as vacation rentals. So essentially the ordinance that the City passed a few years ago is null and void now. Likewise the permit fee increase approved Monday night obviously is also no longer relevant."
It's a big relief for Wood, who won't have to shell out thousands of dollars every year to keep her properties licensed.
"We're thrilled to hear that the entire ordinance change is null and void."
She says vacation rental owners have done nothing but good for Clear Lake.
"We feel like we really brought value to the town by fixing these properties up and we maintain them well."