Paradise Found: Tips to Live In Peace With Vacation Rentals - By Jesse Sostrin PhD

The communities of San Luis Obispo have been described as paradise. Unfortunately for some residents, it feels like paradise lost when the peace, quite and continuity of daily life are interrupted by the commotion from nearby vacation rental properties. The central coast has been, and hopefully always will be, an attractive destination for visitors. This means local residents need constructive strategies to successfully address concerns that may arise from the numerous vacation rentals in our area.

The dynamic between locals and visitors is a classic example of converging expectations that couldn’t be more diverse. Local residents tend to value the ownership and pride they have in their community. They have come to expect their neighborhoods and communities to look and feel a certain way, including the pace of daily life and the peace and quiet that small communities enjoy. Vacationers on the other hand - while seeking some rest and relaxation - are looking for a break from their day-to-day routines. They are more likely to stay up late, listen to music and enjoy outdoor barbecues and social events as they make full use of the their (expensive) rental house. Neither local residents nor vacationers are necessarily more or less justified in their expectations than the other. However, when there is a clash of expectations hurtful conflict can erupt.

Whether it is a concern about yard maintenance, property lines, or traffic safety, part of the solution lies in forming collaborative relationships with property management companies who are responsible for enforcing rules. These property management companies are accountable to the property owners for generating rental income and keeping the units intact. In addition, proactive communication with the actual renters and home owners can give you the opportunity to air out concerns. If you are struggling with these issues, the following tips may help you navigate your way through the conflict:

Remember Things Aren’t Personal – Imagine a typical vacationer; they can’t wait to truly get away for the weekend with a few close family friends at a beach house.  They’re ready to get some much needed rest and relaxation as they pick up their favorite meat and plan a BBQ out on the deck for the entire group, including some time in the hot tub on the deck! The property manager made it clear that dogs are not allowed inside the home so they set up an area in the backyard for their three dogs…If you are the next door neighbor who is bothered by the noise and the constant commotion; it’s helpful to remember that the vacationers are doing exactly what vacationers do. They are not necessarily intending to keep you up late or to disrupt the neighborhood.

Take Initiative to Talk to Your Neighbors (Vacation Renters and Home Owners) – While it can feel really stressful, the cost of living with unresolved conflict can hurt more than the challenge of addressing the issue head on. If you experience concerns of any kind, make an effort to talk to your neighbors, the home owner or the property management company directly. Use the following roadmap as a guide:

  1. First, agree to have a conversation to explore the issues, assumptions, feelings and potential next steps.


  1. Next, take time to clarify the situation to get both perspectives squarely out in the open. Try to focus attention on identifying the substantial issues and then break those down into separate pieces (remember, be hard on the problem and easy on the people).
  1. For each issue, generate options that can potentially satisfy the underlying needs of both people.


  1. As agreements begin to form, commit to a resolution and discuss how the solution can be implemented successfully.

Rather than paradise lost, open communication and mediation gives everyone involved a chance to constructively discuss the situation and explore options and solutions. When things require professional support, Creative Mediation offers this type of specialized mediation service for neighbors, home owners, property management companies and HOAs. More information is available at 805-549-0442 or

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