House amends proposed vacation rental regs, ships back to the Senate

vacation_rentals
The clock is ticking down on attempts to change up the situation that has residents in many neighborhoods of single-family homes begging for relief.

An attempt to give cities and counties some tools to help control short-term rentals won House approval, but an amendment is going to send the measure back for the Senate to consider.

The House bill was swapped out for Republican Sen. Nick DiCeglie’s bill (SB 714) and carried in the House by Republican Rep. Wyman Duggan. It means cities could require vacation rentals to register and pay a fee to do business. It would also require Airbnb and VRBO to collect and remit sales taxes to the state.

“There’s a lot in this bill that improves the situation for local governments by removing all ambiguity about what they can do in terms of regulating vacation rentals,” Duggan said, asking for support and trust that ongoing negotiations will land the bill in the right place.

The bill passed via a 73-39 vote. But critics say it doesn’t go far enough and actually hinders cities’ efforts to control unruly vacationers who have invaded residential neighborhoods.

“They are ripping our residential communities apart,” said Democratic Rep. Dan Daley of Sunrise. “So while I respect and love the sponsor, I’m going to be so far down on this bill, I may hit the button twice.”

For one, enforcement is severely lacking, critics said. The bill leaves enforcing compliance — including suspending the right for bad actors to continue renting — to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The bill adds six people to handle the new workload, Duggan acknowledged.

Far fewer supporters spoke than critics. Duggan was praised for taking on a tough issue that has dogged the proceedings year after year in a way that truly does give cities new tools to control the problem.

“This … doesn’t prohibit a local law ordinance or regulation from restricting the maximum occupancy for residential properties,” said Republican Rep. Will Robinson Jr. of Bradenton. “That is so critical that you put that into this bill. … I have had several of my jurisdictions put in ordinances (restricting occupancy) in place, and they’ve been sued.”

In 2011, the Legislature preempted any local governments from regulating these rental agreements that have proliferated with Airbnb and similar platforms. This bill represents an effort to try to rein in the loud music, outdoor cookouts and partying that have disturbed neighborhoods of single-family homes until the wee hours of the morning.

But Democrats say there’s no way one set of rules can answer the needs represented in 412 municipalities, which have varying concerns regarding regulating the problem. The City of Hollywood, for example, has 1,300 licensed short-term rentals, yet an estimated 2,000 unlicensed ones, Democratic Rep. Hillary Cassel said.

Lawmakers approved an amendment allowing local ordinances that restrict occupancy. But Democrats asked for more — like giving locals the authority to shut down the bad actors. And they also protested how the bill would separate current cities’ short-term registration procedures from health and fire inspections.

“We keep coming back to address this issue because we shouldn’t be handling it — 412 municipalities in this state should have the ability to keep their communities in the manner that the communities see fit,” Cassel said.

“I agree with property rights. But when your entire communities are being bought up by corporations (to rent out for short-term vacationers) … it’s a problem and we should be giving this back to the local communities.”

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


2 comments

  • Carol Anderson

    May 3, 2023 at 2:27 pm

    I don’t believe your article is correct about the occupancy restriction. In lines 395-399, it says “This paragraph does not prohibit a local law, ordinance, or regulation from restricting the maximum occupancy for residential properties that are rented if uniformly applied without regard to whether the residential property is used as a vacation rental.” Most municipalities don’t tell you how many people can live in a home. This is a dangerous bill and I cannot possibly understand why anyone (resident) would think it is good. Help me understand please.

  • Kelly Cisarik

    May 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    Local governments already had the ability to license/register vacation rentals since SB 356 passed in 2014. For 9 years cities could cap occupancy, cap parking, require extra trash cans, require additional safety info and city rules be given to vacationers. They simply could not prohibit vacation rentals or limit the duration or frequency of the rental. SB 714/HB 833 are not giving cities additional tools, except perhaps a pair of handcuffs. E.G. The new bills say cities would have to treat occupancy the same for both residential homes and vacation rental lodging businesses. That means a city can’t regulate unless it rewrites all its land use codes.

Comments are closed.


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