54 counties’ vacation rental safety plans approved ahead of first June weekend

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Broward, Hendry, Miami-Dade and Suwannee counties will soon join the other 50 counties already open for short-term rentals.

Entering the first weekend in June, the state business regulatory agency has approved the vacation rental safety plans for 54 counties, paving the way for more guests to visit the Sunshine State.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) approved four counties’ safety plans this week, adding Broward, Hendry, Miami-Dade and Suwannee counties to the growing list of places where short term rentals will soon reopen.

Broward and Miami-Dade counties’ plans were both approved Wednesday. Broward County’s plan is not listed on DBPR’s site but what confirmed by an agency spokeswoman. Miami-Dade county’s safety plan is approved, but the county is delaying that reopening until Monday, when gyms and summer camps also reopen there.

Suwannee County’s plan was approved Thursday, and Hendry County’s plan became the most recently-approved plan.

Plans locally reverse Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ statewide ban from late March.

Last month, the Governor announced individual counties could submit their safety plans to reopen short-term vacation rentals through DBPR for approval, the first bit of daylight for the industry that felt singled out by the March order.

Panhandle counties, which had asked to reopen the industry crucial for their tourism economies, submitted plans that weekend. Entering Memorial Day weekend, 38 counties’ plans were approved, and four more followed that Saturday.

Signed amid concerns about spring breakers, the original executive order noted that vacation rentals are attractive destinations for out-of-state visitors, then the driving source of COVID-19 infections.

DeSantis’ Re-Open Florida Task Force, which included representatives from the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Walt Disney World Resort and the Fontainebleau luxury hotel in Miami Beach, last month recommended including restrictions on vacation rentals for most of the state’s reopening process. The panel did not include voices from the vacation rental industry.

The task force recommended that hosts only be allowed to rent to Florida residents and be banned from accepting reservations from international travelers or from visitors who live in cities that are known hot spots for COVID-19. The panel did not recommend restrictions for hotels, motels, resorts and time-share developments.

All counties’ plans will discourage renting to travelers from hot spot regions identified by the Governor, namely New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana. Some counties go further, banning guests from states with 700 cases per 100,000 residents, adding Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. to their restrictions.

Vacation rentals are not only crucial to the Panhandle. In 2018, an estimated 11.2% of Florida’s visitors stayed in vacation rentals and the industry represented 1.6% of the total gross domestic product for Florida that year, according to a report from a January study by the University of Central Florida.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


5 comments

  • VR

    June 6, 2020 at 6:38 am

    I’ve never seen explanation as to why DeSantis singled out the vacation rental industry to close on and not the hotel industry. Now that he’s allowed the industry to re-open, I’ve not seen an explanation as to why he is recommending restrictions for whom the industry rents to, and again not to the hotel industry. Has there been anything written that discusses these two questions?

    • K Hug

      June 6, 2020 at 9:31 am

      Thank you for pointing this out. Our question as well is why the vacation rentals are being singled out. Lots of single owner homes losing money.

    • Jon Z

      June 7, 2020 at 8:37 am

      VR, I am not sure the exact reason, but it might be the amount of inspections and type of inspections DBPR performs for each of the industries. They are required to inspect over 90% each year for hotels and restaurants (they check for health and safety following federal and state requirements), while vacation rentals are more of a registration and respond to complaint regulation. I don’t think the state has the man power to now attempt to inspect every vacation rental to see if they are safe as well as to the other tasks they already are required to do. I have told many of my friends asking about why the state isn’t doing more, and told them that many of the workers are not at work due to the virus as well and the inspections cannot happen until it is safe for the inspectors too. I hope this might help clarify.

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  • BNB Rental Group

    June 12, 2020 at 4:13 am

    But not all can have a vacation at this point in time…not at least there’s a cure…

Comments are closed.


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