Suzanne Roig
The Bulletin

A northeast Bend homeowner is suing her neighbor because the neighbor is operating a permitted short-term rental that violates the covenants and restrictions of the community.

The vacation rental’s owners, Tina and Eric Eckstein, could not be reached for comment regarding the property on Bilyeu Way in Canal Crossing.

“There is a constant coming and going at this house,” said Connie Axelrod, who filed the lawsuit on April 19 with Linda Jensen in Deschutes County Circuit Court. “The streets are narrow in some places. A vacation rental is against the (covenants conditions and restrictions) and they should respect what they are.”

Axelrod and Jensen are asking the court to force the Ecksteins to stop using her property as a vacation rental. The property is among 881 short-term rentals licensed in the city of Bend.

Going through the courts is often a last resort for homeowners, said Kevin Harker, the attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Axelrod. It is a way to enforce the covenants, because the city doesn’t, Harker said. Today he has about 20 cases pending in Washington and Oregon in which he represents owners trying to enforce similar deed restrictions.

Under the deed restrictions for Canal Crossing, either a homeowner or the community association, through its architectural review committee, can bring action against a neighbor for violations, Harker said.

Rentals of less than 30 days are prohibited under the conditions for all owners of the neighborhood, according to the covenants. The rules of the community are self-enforced, Harker said.

“The city has authority to issue permits, but the CCNRs are outside their jurisdiction. The city doesn’t generally verify whether short-term rentals are allowed,” Harker said.

The Ecksteins have 30 days to file a response.

Axelrod, whose back deck abuts the Eckstein home, said that the guests who stay at the property use the hot tub frequently, and the fire pit is close to the juniper trees.

“Between the fire pit issue and the nighttime sounds coming from the deck and hot tub, we’ve had enough and got fed up with it,” Axelrod said. “I feel like I gave it enough time. We’re not getting any money from this.”

The Ecksteins’ short-term rental license, which is for an entire home rental of three bedrooms, is up for renewal in December, said Lorelei Williams, city of Bend program manager. A total of eight people are permitted to occupy the short-term rental, she said.

However, the city is investigating a complaint of a possible code violation because a fire pit may not meet fire code standards, she said. The fire pit’s location poses a possible code violation, which has put the license in code-enforcement status, Williams said.

— Reporter: 541-633-2117, sroig@bendbulletin.com

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct location of Canal Crossing.

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