Rancho Mirage City Council votes to raise minimum age for vacation rentals

City of Rancho Mirage making it a little bit quieter in residential communities

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Rancho Mirage City Council voted 5 to 0 to raise the age for renting a home from 21 to 30.

It's a decision that left some homeowners and rental agencies reeling.

"It could possibly chase them to another city in the desert," said Vickie Murguia who owns Vacation Rentals of the Desert, and rents about 100 properties in Rancho Mirage.

The city says it's a response to a slew of recent issues with young renters creating noise and disturbing neighbors.

"Problems we've experienced with people hanging out on the rooftops, jumping into pools and having some wild parties during the Coachella Festival," said City Attorney Steven Quintanilla.

Attorney Kenneth Gregory represents homeowners with rentals and says the amended ordinance violates state civil code and puts homeowners at risk of being sued.

"You can't restrict on the basis of age in a business enterprise," he said, bringing up the Unruh Civil Rights Act.  "Once they're called and inquired as to being able to rent the property and they say how old are you? And they say under 30 and you say you can't rent, you're subject to a lawsuit."

"I don't want to get sued, I can't afford to get sued," Murguia said.

But the city says it's not age discrimination because the ordinance doesn't require the occupants to be 30 years old, just the "responsible party."

"We need a responsible person who is at least 30 to sign the contract. We're not preventing someone under 30 from occupying the home," Quintanilla said. "This is similar to what car agencies do."

"That's the joke about the whole ordinance. As long as they find a 30-year-old you can fill the home with 18-year-olds," Gregory pointed out.

Some homeowners worry the new rules will drive renters to other cities with more lax regulations, such as Palm Springs where the minimum age is 25. In Indio and La Quinta you only have to be 18.

"It could affect if they will keep their properties or not," Murguia said.

"If you can't find a 30 year old and you're under 30, you can't stay in Rancho Mirage. You can stay at a hotel, you just can't stay in one of our rentals," Gregory said.

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