Illegal vacation rental near Fairfield targeted with threatening graffiti is back on VRBO

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (KGO) -- It's a story that's hard to forget. A group of friends visiting the Bay Area last month woke up to find their rental home near Fairfield vandalized: the garage door painted with a threatening message telling them to leave this place or else and all four tires of their rental van slashed.

It quickly became clear the group got caught in the middle of a contentious neighborhood debate over short-term rentals. Despite how disturbed they were by the vandalism, though, they were even more disturbed to find out the seven-bedroom home should not have been listed on VRBO where they booked it. Solano County put a moratorium on short-term rentals earlier this year and this home does not have a permit.

"The most wrong to me would be the homeowners because they're like, let's keep renting!" Alana Harrison, one of the renters, told ABC7 News at the time.

After the incident, VRBO removed the property from their site and reimbursed the renters.

VIDEO: Bay Area vacation home renters targeted with threat, vandalism from neighbors after booking mishap
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The group, which rented a home on VRBO, woke up to their van's tires slashed and a threatening message painted on the garage.



Seemed done and done. Right? Well, not so fast.

On Monday, a tipster sent ABC7 News a link to a new VRBO listing showing the exact same home on Edinburg Ct. in Solano County.

The only difference this time? The home is listed with a 30-night minimum, which essentially no longer makes it a short-term rental. But neighbors told ABC7 News the homeowners have done this before and that they believe it could be a way for them to skirt the rules.

"This is consistent with their past behaviors," neighbor Cliff Neal said on Monday. "They've kind of thumbed their noses and tried to find ways around the system."

Neal lives on the same cul-de-sac. He said for over a year it's been a similar pattern: the county shuts down the rental home and then the homeowners find a way to keep renting.

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"It's also advertised for like $850 per night, which is about $25,000 a month. Nobody's going to rent it for that," Neal said. "I have to assume it's a gateway to solicit people that might be interested in a short-term rental."

Nearby rental homes of a similar size rent for between $3,000-$5,000 per month.

ABC7 News reached out to VRBO, and received this statement:

By requiring a 30-day minimum stay, this host is not in violation of local short-term rental regulations. If we learn of a host operating illegally, we reserve the right to remove it from our site. If individuals from the local community have a concern about a VRBO property in their neighborhood, they should submit a complaint form through VRBO's Stay Neighborly program and we will investigate.

The homeowners did not respond to ABC7 News' request to speak Monday. The Solano County planning manager Allan Calder told ABC7 News in an email that he could not address this specific home because it is the subject of an ongoing code enforcement case.

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Calder said Solano County considers a short-term rental any home of no more than five bedrooms that is rented for 30 or less days at a time.

The Solano County Sheriff's Department said there have been no breakthroughs in determining who vandalized the home last month.

For now, Neal expects it's only a matter of time before new renters show up.

"We can't say that's what they're going to do. I can say that's what appears they've done in this past. It appears that's what they're doing again," he said. "So maybe this will give the county ammunition to finally do something."

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