Manny Diaz, Jason Fischer: Vacation rentals need predictability, uniformity

Vacation Rental House
The proper place for the regulation of vacation rentals is the DBPR — just like the rest of the hospitality industry.

As vacation rental platforms have increased in popularity, vacation rental owners and tourists have been in a state of flux due to rules and regulations that differ from one city or county to the other. That is why we have filed Senate Bill 1128 and House Bill 1011 in an effort to create predictable and uniform regulations related to vacation rentals in Florida.

The bills will protect homeowners and consumers by clarifying the rules for everyone with a single, statewide system with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the Department of Revenue (DOR) handling vacation rental licensing, inspections and the verification of state tax registrations.

While vacation rentals are certainly not a new concept, online platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO have made them easier to list and to rent. In fact, a report recently released by Airbnb states that Florida’s host community has surpassed the ten-figure mark by earning a combined $1.2 billion in supplemental income while welcoming approximately 6.6 million guests to the state in 2019. Those numbers are remarkable.

While the popularity of vacation rentals has grown, local governments have unfortunately attempted, and in some instances succeeded in, restricting or outright banning vacation rentals — in violation of Florida state law. These bills clarify the role local governments can play in regulating vacation rentals, while placing due responsibility on the platforms. Importantly, though, the legislation does not affect homeowners’ association covenants, condominium association documents, or local regulations and zoning rules adopted prior to 2011 that are considered “grandfathered” in under state law.

In reality, this legislation would actually help all jurisdictions — even those that currently do not have ordinances regulating vacation rentals. If passed, the bills would create a mechanism by which listings that were noncompliant with this uniform set of rules would be taken off the market, without local governments having to spend any taxpayer money or resources.

For years, we have heard from both supporters and opposition groups, and these bills take both perspectives into account by offering regulations that provide uniformity, create accountability and continue to grow the partnership with vacation rental platforms. In fact, some platforms already voluntarily collect and remit sales and bed taxes to the state of Florida. These bills go a step further by ensuring accountability and allow the state to realize tax dollars that otherwise may not have been collected or submitted.

Tourism is one of Florida’s top revenue generators. We have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that we continue the record-setting pace of travel and tourism in a way that recognizes and protects the many contributions vacation rentals have made to our state and residents.

Vacation rentals simply provide additional lodging options for travelers choosing to spend their hard-earned money vacationing in our state. And if consumers are looking for this option and it helps to attract even more guests to Florida, then vacation rentals are something we should embrace with transparency and accountability.

As we continue to seek ways to cut regulations and red tape that are prohibitive to growing Florida’s economy, we must address this drawn-out clash between local governments, the vacation rental industry and competing business interests.

The proper place for the regulation of vacation rentals is the DBPR — just like the rest of the hospitality industry.

 ___

State Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr. is a Republican from Hialeah Gardens. State Rep. Jason Fischer is a Republican from Jacksonville.

Guest Author


2 comments

  • Jan

    February 10, 2020 at 8:11 am

    As you may have read in the paper, Arizona, which passed laws like these that Florida is proposing, is now suffering “buyer’s remorse.” In fact, over 30% of Sedona housing is now short-term rentals, crowding out those who want to live and work in the city.

    Is that what we want to happen in Florida? Hope everyone knows that the great majority of Airbnb’s rentals are investor-owned, whole unit rentals. We had one person in our community with 17 lots/properties – he lived in St. Louis. Another with a house that slept 22 on a weekly basis – lives in England.

    The research clearly shows unfettered short-term rentals reduce housing inventory for those who want to live and work in an affected area, drives up prices, and prevents a sense of community.

    Polls (St. Petes Poll, Living in Florida Poll) clearly shows that the residents/voters DO NOT want uncontrolled short-term rentals. And, the way that the bill is written says renting your home is a “constitutional right” which also takes away HOA protections.

    Voters/residents should contact their representatives today and let them know they do not want this bill to pass. Airbnb has contributed more than $1.25 million to get these bills passed.

    We only have our vote.

  • Charles M

    February 11, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    This legislation seems pretty well thought out and there are controls in place. I live in a beach community and I need the ability to occasionally rent out my house to supplement my income and offset my insurance premiums which seem to go up every year. I’m praying this goes through to prevent further overreach by local government. We need a standard set of rules within the state of Florida.

Comments are closed.


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