A house on South Federal Street in Montauk has drawn the ire of year-round neighbors who say it is a party house disrupting their summer, and one neighbor has started a Facebook page, Montauk Rental Madness, showing video of what goes on.
The house is owed by John Templeman, a Manhattan attorney who is from Australia. The house is advertised on several Internet sites, including Airbnb. The ad says the house has eight beds, three and a half bathrooms, and can accommodate up to 14 people. The fee ranges from $900 per night to $1,600, with an additional $50 for each guest over 10.
Theresa Eurell, a Montauk native who lives across the street and is with Town and Country Real Estate, said the party started on Memorial Day weekend and has continued with a different crowd every weekend since. She has counted up to 12 cars in its circular driveway, she said, adding that tenants come and go at all hours, as do taxicabs delivering guests after a night of partying in local clubs.
Another neighbor had an X-rated report. Patty Grignon, who lives directly behind the house and its pool and hot tub, said one couple had sexual relations in the backyard, and that she has heard yelling and conversations about sex. The guests arrive on Thursday and often stay through Sunday, she said. “Thursday is the new Friday. I’m hearing things that I don’t want to hear. They think they’re at the Jersey Shore. There’s no respect.”
Ms. Eurell started Montauk Rental Madness, where a video shows red Solo cups strewn about the yard and on the street in front of the house. A visit to the house shows cigarette butts on the front steps and surrounding areas. Ms. Eurell said a friend who was hired to mow the lawn was unable to do so because of the debris.
If that, and that she is losing sleep because of the noise, isn’t bad enough, she had a wooden fence installed to keep the taxis from using her driveway as a turnaround, but a taxi damaged it. At one point another neighbor approached the guests and asked them to turn the music down, she said. Although the tenants initially complied, one yelled out that they were paying $1,600 a night and were entitled to blast their music. The volume was turned back up. Ms. Eurell said she had contacted the town code enforcement office innumerable times, leaving messages on weekends, but had not received a response.
Betsy Bambrick, the director of code enforcement, said her office had received one anonymous complaint that included the wrong address. She said code enforcement usually did not respond to anonymous complaints, but that someone had been sent out anyway. No action followed. The second complaint, which code enforcement officially considered the first, was received online on June 13.
David Betts, the town’s public safety director, said three complaints must be received before the town initiates a court action.
Once the third complaint is proven, officials will gather information and present the owner with an appearance ticket. Mr. Betts and Ms. Bambrick suggested that neighbors should file complaints online while the violation actually is in progress.
The problem with rental homes is not unique to Montauk, Mr. Betts said. “Excessive turnover is happening everywhere.”
The excessive turnover section of the East Hampton Town Code prohibits single family residences to be rented for a term that is not more than two weeks on three or more occasions during a six-month period. The code also states that no more than four vehicles are to be on the property.
Ms. Eurell said her firm no longer helps with rentals unless by referral. “We didn’t want to contribute to the madness and have lost a lot of business. We’ve all given up income by doing so,” she said, adding “I’m all for renting, but you have to follow the guidelines.” Other real estate agents contacted say they have policies in place to weed out renters and groups that might misuse the home. Marge Harvey of Pospisil Realtors said the problem lies with the Internet. “We were the gateway at one time but we don’t want to handle rentals, so they’re turning to the Internet. Owners in some cases don’t even know what’s going on.”
Contacted online, Mr. Templeman returned an email message, saying he was taken aback by the complaints and had never received any. However, speaking by phone yesterday, he said, “I’d like to get a better understanding of the situation and ensure it does not happen again. I will do everything I can to bring order to the town.”
Note: An earlier version of this story indicated that the Airbnb description of South Federal Street house advertised eight bedrooms, not eight beds. The listing no longer appears on that website.