The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Board of Realtors to educate the public on short-term rentals.
The agreement comes in the wake of a fire that forced 16 people to evacuate their Incline Village vacation home rental (VHR) in early February, and a fatal fire at another short-term rental on Tomahawk last year.
Incline Village and Crystal Bay are becoming increasingly aware of a lack of safety knowledge among rentals — a sharp contrast compared to areas such as South Lake Tahoe, where VHRs have been one of the most hotly debated issues for some time.
"The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District saw the need for safety checks on vacation rentals," said Ryan Sommers, fire chief. "These vacation rentals need operating fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and adequate emergency exit plans including windows and doorways, in order to be prepared for the worst. We are now asking that rental property owners and property managers do their due diligence to complete safety inspections on their properties."
According to Washoe County, there are 980 short-term rentals in Incline Village and Crystal Bay. These vacation rentals are all 28 days or less, mostly being Air B&Bs and VRBO's.
Originally, the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District created a resolution that would mandate regular inspections of rental homes to ensure that they were conforming to fire codes for rentals, including working smoke detectors, having large enough windows in upstairs rooms, etc. The resolution specified it would cost about $200 per house.
North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District hosted a meeting and 60 Realtors showed up in protest. They were against more red tape when it comes to managing rentals.
The issue, according to the Incline Village Board of Realtors, is a matter of balancing protections for property owners and safety for guests at short-term rentals.
"Local Realtors are committed to protecting people and property from fires and other hazards, while also protecting the rights of property owners," Todd Disbrow, 2018 president of the Incline Village Board of Realtors, said in a statement. "As part of this commitment, members of the Incline Village Board of Realtors (IVBOR) and the statewide Nevada Realtors have been working with the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District (NLTFPD) and other community leaders for many months to help them educate property owners, visitors and renters about how to prevent fires and how to be safe if a fire should occur."
As a compromise, the fire department agreed to an memorandum with the Board of Realtors to educate the public. This includes a $150,000 campaign with flyers going to residences and an informative website on how to make your home fire safe. After one year of this campaign, data will be collected to see how effective the campaign was in reaching people, whether the community took action, and what problems continue to persist. They will also follow how many people visit the website.
If a renter has further questions about adequate safety precautions regarding their rental home, contact the Fire Protection District at http://www.nltfpd.net/contact/.