Lawmakers want to toss ‘patchwork’ of local vacation rental regulations

Two measures that would preempt local regulations on vacation rentals featured on sites like Airbnb are facing backlash from the bed and breakfast industry which claims short-term rentals are a “serious risk” to tourists.

“We urge our lawmakers not to put Florida’s world-class lodging reputation at risk for illegal commercial operators,” said Carol Dover, the president of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.

Despite the criticism, dozens of sign-wielding vacation rental advocates gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday campaigning for the bills, which would preempt a myriad of local rules on vacation rentals that have been set throughout the state.

Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican, is fighting for legislation that failed last year that would expand the state licensing system to include vacation rentals. Steube says it’s a “private property rights issue,” but critics call it “Big Government overreach.”

“Just like hotels and motels are regulated at the state level, so you don’t have all this piece meal regulation throughout all the cities and counties, it’s the same reason why we want to do this for vacation rentals,” Steube said.

Steube sponsored similar legislation that passed the House last year, but didn’t get a final vote in the Senate. Republican State Rep. Mike La Rosa is also pushing the measure again this year.

Currently cities and counties have the power to place their own rules. In some areas, homeowners are not allowed to rent their homes for less than 6 months at a time. Others allow renting for a monthly and weekly rentals. And in beachfront communities like Miami-Dade, fines in the tens of thousands of dollars are levied against renters on Miami Beach.

The issue is also heated in Sarasota, a beach community dotted with resorts, which is Steube’s hometown.

While those who oppose it say weekly and nightly rental impact their quality of life, the latest numbers released by Airbnb show there is a great economic impact that comes with vacation rentals.

The online hospitality giant said that in 2017, approximately 40,000 Florida hosts earned a combined $450 million and welcomed 2.7 million guests, boosting tourism numbers and taxes to local communities.

Airbnb is clearly in support of the measures, saying the policy change would add more protections for homeowners using the platform.

“It’s protection for them, so they don’t have to worry about these increasingly creative attempts to get around the state law, which is what we are seeing,” Ben Breit, a company spokesman said.

Ana Ceballos

Ana covers politics and policy Before joining the News Service of Florida she wrote for the Naples Daily News and was the legislative relief reporter for The Associated Press and covered policy issues impacting immigration, the environment, criminal justice and social welfare in Florida. She holds a B.A. in journalism from San Diego State University. After graduating in 2014, she worked as a criminal justice reporter for the Monterey Herald and the Monterey County Weekly. She has also freelanced for The Washington Post at the U.S.-Mexico border covering crime in the border city of Tijuana, where she grew up. Ana is fluent in Spanish and has intermediate proficiency in Portuguese.


  • Ex Castillo

    January 16, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    With the knowing traffic of travelers wanting to stay in Florida, constitutes earnings and taxation in the state. Vacation rental business creates jobs, building up the economy and foster tourism in Florida, and as well as on the most US states in which vacation rentals exists. Let’s not only focus on the limitations which is brought by this industry, rather we all extend hands to set to convert those limitations into strength, By then we will be to experience economic progress and continued business to its business partners. Please check to learn about vacation rentals.

  • Paula

    January 16, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    People move into communities zoned single-family for neighborhoods, not strangerhoods.

    Residents in communities zoned single-family are opposed to investor-owned mini-hotels with rotating groups of dozens of short-term renters. Look and see on your county assessor’s site if these short-term rentals are homesteaded – none in our community are – they are owned by people living in other areas, states and even out of the country. This is not what Florida residents and voters wanted when they moved to Florida. Don’t believe Airbnb and HomeAway – they have an agenda, and it’s to take over your neighborhood with investor-owned mini-hotels. Contact your legislators and tell them not to pass Steube or La Rosa’s bills. La Rosa has a real estate company that specializes in “short-term rental investments.” It is shameful.

    • Not Paula

      January 17, 2018 at 7:49 am

      Thanks Paula, for typing the opposing side’s talking points directly into the comments field. No one talks like this. Get a grip.

      • Paula

        January 17, 2018 at 5:15 pm

        Ah…people do talk like this- when they live in one these communities affected by mini-hotels (built by investors), and who have spent hours contacting our legislators, going to Tallahassee, listening to the committees discuss this, and see La Rosa and Steube representing the short-term rental industry on panels sponsored by the VRMA. I’ve lived it for years now.

        And, keep in mind, although Airbnb touts “mom and pop” as their model, 81% of their profit comes from entire house (no owner home) rentals. Check out the Chicago Tribune for verification.

        • Ralph

          January 18, 2018 at 5:31 pm

          I totally agree with you, Paula! I live in a community that allows monthly rentals. If that is changed to daily, my life will be greatly affected, to the point that I would consider moving out of the state.
          Can you imagine having 6 or 8 people move in across the street on a Friday, driving 4 cars, not cleaning up after their dogs, feeding the alligators, partying half the night. And then on Sunday, they leave a pile of trash at the curb and drive away.
          There are currently plenty of places for tourists to stay. If my neighbor wants to have friends over, fine, but not when that neighbor lives 1000 miles away.
          I have written both my state Senator and state Rep. and asked them to vote NO on this bill (SB 1400 & HB 773)

Comments are closed.


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