In popular tourist towns, such as Palm Springs, the negative impact of short-term rentals, STRs, on the lives of nearby homeowners is quite alarming. One can easily surmise the economic impact as the value of houses decline and become increasingly difficult to sell to anyone besides an investor. What is seldom sufficiently understood are the long-term consequences on the physical, emotional, and mental health of the affected home owners.
If a man’s or woman’s home is his or her castle, a place where they and their families can gather in comfort and security, then the presence of short-term rentals in the neighborhood with all the problems they bring can best be thought of as a kind of invasive disease or perhaps more fittingly as an act of personal violation.
This kind of personal violation is traumatic. It is time we understood the long-term consequences involved. Constant noise emanating day and night from weekend-long parties, the presence of drunken strangers in the neighborhood, and parking problems create a terrible sense of stress, lack of safety, loss of control, anxiety, and depression. As any doctor will tell you, long term stress has an adverse effect on blood pressure, can weaken the immune system, and can lead to a variety of mental health problems.
As the dreaded weekend approaches, nearby home owners often experience a kind of anticipatory stress reaction that can even impact the pleasure and joy they are able to derive from their own homes during the week when no STRs are operating in the neighborhood.
When we place the problem of the increasing number of these STRs in its proper perspective, we see that not only are they destroying the social fabric of many neighborhoods, but they also present a mental health menace for the residents in the very neighborhoods they are destroying.
Licensed mental health professionals such as myself use the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, affectionately called the DSM-5, in our work when we need to diagnose patients who come to us seeking our help. Perhaps it is time to recognize the mental health implications that these runaway STRs present and call this situation what it is: STR Anxiety and Stress Disorder.
David Glick is a licensed marriage and family therapist who lives in Fairfax, Calif., north of Los Angeles. The vacation rental controversy has garnered national headlines and national attention with Palm Springs being an international tourist destination.