Resident alerts officials to her concern about ‘outsiders’ buying houses for rentals in Villages

A resident’s concern about “outsiders” buying houses for rental properties in The Villages prompted a spirited discussion Friday morning at the Community Development District 2 Board of Supervisors meeting.

“I have noticed that a lot of investors outside the county are buying homes and turning them into rentals. The ratio of homeowners to seasonal is reversing and more and more seniors are surrounded by empty homes or renters they have no relationship with,” said Village of Santo Domingo resident Debra Odom in an email distributed to supervisors.

She blamed the growth of renters for existing residents’ “loneliness” and said renters are “killing” social activities.

“Trying to get enough people together for a driveway party is difficult, because the seasonal snowbirds are not looking to make friends, they bring them with them. It also isolates older residents as they do not know their neighbors and have no one to go to in case they need help, physically or medically,” Odom said.

District Counsel Valerie Fuchs told CDD 2 supervisors they had no jurisdiction over the matter.

“Is there anything in the statute that says, ‘This is not a resort, it’s a home?’” asked CDD 2 Supervisor Marty Rothbard.

Fuchs said there was no such language in Chapter 190 of the Florida Statutes which lays out how community development districts operate.

“The reality is there nothing we can do,” said CDD 2 Supervisor Bart Zoellner.

He said he has lived in the same neighborhood for more than a decade. Many houses in his neighborhood have turned over and have new owners.

“Now I am the old guy in the neighborhood,” he said.

He said driveway parties drew big crowds in his neighborhood in years past. But those numbers have dropped because many neighbors are now strangers.

Zoellner said he is concerned about “a significant number of young people” living in The Villages.

“Is anybody keeping track of the 80-20 rule?” he asked.

He was referring to the rule that at least 80 percent of the units must be occupied by at least one resident over the age of 55.

Fuchs said such tracking was not a function of Villages District government.