Short-term rentals have become a vital component of Florida’s tourism industry, granting property owners and visitors more flexibility when planning the duration and location of their stay. These types of rentals also help lift financial burdens off family renters by allowing them to stay together in a home instead of multiple hotel rooms, which can get unnecessarily expensive.
Property rights are advanced by this industry as well, giving owners the freedom to rent out their property as they so choose.
In 2011, the Florida Legislature recognized these benefits by passing a law that banned local governments from prohibiting short-term rentals.
It only took three years before the Legislature changed its mind and gave more power to cities seeking to prohibit or severely cripple the short-term rental industry.
Since that time, we have seen local governments run wild, enacting onerous rules that, in my view, dampen our economy and trample on Floridians’ property rights.
Take Miami Beach, for example, where some homeowners have been fined $20,000 for violations of short-term rental ordinances. These exorbitant penalties have functioned as a de facto ban for many homeowners who would have liked to rent out their property to potential vacationers.
Instead of recognizing vacation rentals as an economic benefit, cities have exploited it with excessive fines, penalties and registration fees, all while violating your right to own and enjoy your property!
I have introduced Senate Bill 188, a bill that will stop this kind of overreach and return the law back to its 2011 version.
The debilitating effects of current law are not limited to just travelers and short-term rental owners. Policies that discourage tourism have widespread effects on our economy too. Travel and tourism are essential to Florida’s economic health, producing $67 billion in economic activity every year.
Diminishing tourism activity ultimately harms local businesses and job creation, depriving Florida of valuable tax dollars. Less tourism means less tax revenue to be used for projects in cities and communities across the state, including right here in the Tampa/St. Pete area.
Opponents of my bill claim that short-term rentals invite the potential for “party houses,” when justifying the restrictions enacted by the cities. But cities have their own local laws that address such nuisance complaints, and all homeowners – full-time or part-time – are subject to these rules. If you as a homeowner feel that neighboring renters are disruptive, urge your city to either enforce existing ordinances or pass stronger ordinances that deal with such behavior.
I don’t think the government should be in the business of picking one person’s property rights over another’s.
Further, it is important to clarify that this bill does not affect local homeowner’s associations and neighborhoods that have adopted their own covenants, declarations or bylaws. The bill simply serves to help safeguard a vibrant part of our economy while protecting property owners and renters from overreaching city governments.
Florida has a chance to go back to a law for short-term rentals that worked. By passing Senate Bill 188, we can once again establish a commonsense approach to preserving a growing segment of Florida’s most important industry. Strong statewide standards that protect all Floridians’ property rights are crucial to ensuring the well-being of Florida’s tourism economy.
Greg Steube represents Florida Senate District 23, which includes Sarasota County and western Charlotte County.