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Short term rentals may have state protection if this bill becomes law.

Influence

Senate bill seeks legal short-term rentals statewide

Good news for VRBO, Airbnb.

Throughout Florida, cities continue to litigate the question of vacation rental zoning. A Senate bill would render those debates moot.

SB 1128, filed by Sen. Manny Diaz, would preempt the regulation of vacation rentals to the state.

Local laws regulating or banning short-term rentals would be rendered moot.

The Miami Republican’s bill protects from local regulation rentals offered via an “advertising platform,” which offers software and online access to listings for “transient public lodging establishment[s]” in the state.

Just as public lodging (hotels and motels) and food service establishments are regulated by the state, so too would Airbnb, VRBO, and the like.

The bill lays forth some justifications for preempting local regulations.

“Property owners who choose to use their property as a vacation rental have constitutionally protected property rights,” the legislation contends.

The role of short-term rentals, meanwhile, is “significant, unique, and critical” to the state’s tourism industry.

Regulations of such are only permitted if they apply to all properties, including long-term rentals and owner-occupied homes.

Laws passed before June 2011 are grandfathered in.

In turn, owners of rented properties have certain obligations.

Primary among them: display of their Vacation Rental Dwelling License.

The bill also has provisions that tighten regulations on the short-term rental services themselves.

Among them: requirements for display of license, sales tax and tourist development tax information.

Quarterly verification is required, along with a stipulation that noncompliant properties are removed from platforms within 15 days.

The Legislature often takes aim at so-called “home rule” provisions, and this bill falls within a recent tradition of trying to scuttle onerous ordinances.

In the 2019 Session, one of the most talked about bills was a preemption on local bans on front-yard vegetable gardens.

The saying then was “Free the peas.”

This year’s may be “Free the AirBnBs.”

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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