A bill preempting short-term zoning for rentals cleared its Senate committee just before the final buzzer, over the objections of local leaders in attendance.
The Rules committee is the bill’s final committee of reference before the Senate floor.
The proposed legislation protects from local regulation rentals offered through an “advertising platform,” which provides software and online access to listings for “transient public lodging establishment[s]” in the state.
Just as the state regulates public lodging (hotels and motels) and food service establishments, so too would it regulate Airbnb, VRBO, and the like.
The bill now allows Home Owner Associations to opt out of the scheme.
Sen. Travis Hutson (who was behind 2014 legislation that offered local control protections) presented the bill in Diaz’s absence, including a strike-all amendment that eliminated local laws requiring inspection and licensing of vacation rentals, and allowed the state to “amend local laws to be less restrictive.”
The amendment was adopted, and it turned some previous opponents of the bill into supporters
Democrat Linda Stewart floated an amendment to the strike all that allowed short-term rentals to be regulated like bed and breakfast establishments, but the amendment and a subsequent motion to reconsider failed.
Opposition was fierce but futile, with one homeowner describing short-term renters next door breaking into her home and leering at her daughter, expressing real concern about the Department of Business and Professional Regulation being able to regulate the industry. A city leader from South Florida contended that vacation rentals are hotbeds of human trafficking, Others noted that many vacation rentals are owned by LLCs with no care or concern for the community around the asset.
Short-term rental regulation would only permitted if rules apply to all properties, including long-term rentals and owner-occupied homes.
In turn, owners of rented properties have certain obligations.
Primary among them: A display of their Vacation Rental Dwelling License and requirements for displaying license, sales tax, and tourist development tax information.
The bill also has provisions that tighten regulations on the short-term rental services themselves.
In support: Florida Realtors, the James Madison Institute, and Americans for Prosperity.
Also backing the bill: an eight-year-old kid, who noted “vacation rentals are awesome.”
Her comments, though generally well-received, did not address the continuing tug of war between local and state governments on this issue.
Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.