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Two homeowners file lawsuit against City of Milford's Airbnb restrictions

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Posted at 4:37 PM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-05 16:37:57-04

MILFORD, Ohio — Two Milford homeowners have filed a lawsuit against the City of Milford after both were prohibited from obtaining vacation rental permits to list their homes on Airbnb and VRBO.

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of Tara Menkhaus and Linda Cassidy after both of them were allegedly prohibited from leasing short-term rentals — which are defined as rentals of less than 90 days — on their respective properties.

Per the lawsuit, the City of Milford has the authority to fine those who lease their private property for short-terms unless the homeowner dwells within the home or specific unit within the home so leased, which means someone cannot own property in Milford to short-term lease it unless they themselves dwell in the property as their primary place of residence. It also says property owners can be fined if a neighboring homeowner has first obtained a permit to do the same.

The City of Milford implemented these restrictions on June 21, 2022, and city council gave all entities running short-term rentals until Oct. 1, 2022 to fully comply with the new restrictions.

According to the 1851 Center, Menkhaus was forbidden from hosting short-term guests because a neighbor within 300 feet of her property obtained a vacation rental permit just weeks prior to when she did. Cassidy was allegedly forbidden from hosting short-term guests solely because she lives in her own home down the street from the rental, rather than within it.

The lawsuit is claiming that the City of Milford's ordinance on short-term vacation rentals, as well as the penalties for violating it, are suppressing private property rights and commerce.

The 1851 Center lists that "due process, equal protection and antitrust guarantees protect Ohioans from 'neighborhood vetoes' whereby local government authorize any protesting neighbor to veto another's use of his or her home (as a vacation rental in this case)." The lawsuit also claims that this was to do so to create a neighborhood monopoly for that protesting neighbor's own rental.

The lawsuit also says that the excessive fines clause forbids fines of up to $3,000 per day for continuance of leasing one's home.

"Ohio cities violate both constitutional and ethical boundaries when they empower busybody neighbors with veto power over our property rights or condition those rights on where we reside," the lawsuit says.

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