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Advocates for local control of vacation rentals rally ahead of Senate Rules, 3/2/2020


Door could be slammed on vacation rentals plan

Senate Rules postponed the bill, but the House is poised to pass it.

A bill preempting short-term zoning for rentals was temporarily postponed early in the Senate  Rules Committee after consistent objections from local leaders and a lack of support from the Governor.

SB 1128, sponsored by Republican Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., was not heard Monday.

The House bill (HB 1011) has cleared all three committees of reference and is ready for the floor, meaning there is still a path despite the committee stall.

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 like hotels and motels, and foodservice establishments, so too would it regulate Airbnb, VRBO, and the like.

While the move is framed as an elegant solution to patchwork local regulation, even Gov. Ron DeSantis balks, questioning the state’s ability to handle the task and whether there’s a need for statewide uniformity.

Locals from Tallahassee, St. Augustine and Crystal River in a press conference Monday morning voiced complaints rehearsed in previous committees that vacation rentals left unchecked could undermine quality of life for adjacent landowners. However, no Senators joined them in that argument.

Still, the case was made that preemption represented a “Godzilla,” threatening neighborhoods.

Local regulations under the bill are only permitted if they apply to all properties, including long-term rentals and owner-occupied homes.

Laws passed before June 2011 will be grandfathered.

In turn, owners of rented properties would have certain obligations.

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

Property owners would also face requirements to display sales tax and tourist development tax information.

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

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

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

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at

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