Flagler County has kept preservation of regulatory authority among its legislative priorities year after year, as the vacation rental industry has–year after year–attempted to scrap the 2014 law and “pre-empt” local control to the state.
A Florida Senate panel today in a surprise shift voted to preserve local regulatory authority of short-term vacation rentals. If that version of the bill survives and overrides a different House bill, as appears likely, then local regulations will remain in place unscathed, surviving attempts to scrap that local authority for the seventh straight year.
The ongoing battle over short-term rental regulation is of special interest to Flagler County and its local government, which last decade initiated the movement that led to the 2014 law granting local governments the power to regulate short-term rentals up to a point.
A years-long effort to block local governments from regulating vacation rentals is on the move again, as House and Senate leaders revive a proposal to prevent cities and counties from inspecting and licensing properties offered on platforms such as Airbnb.
Some counties are mandating a 24-hour wait between bookings, while others are requiring “sufficient” or “adequate” time for cleaning and disinfecting.
Flagler County’s vacation rentals may operate again after a two-month hiatus forced by a governor’s order in response to the coronavirus emergency. Rentals may resume immediately.
Counties can submit vacation-rental reopening plans to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which will have to sign off on the proposals.
The Senate Rules Committee was scheduled to hear the bill (SB 1128) Monday, but bill sponsor Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, said the measure was postponed because he lacked the support necessary to get it out of the committee.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is expressing concerns about legislative proposals that would further prevent local governments from regulating short-term vacation rentals. The governor’s stance drew cheers from Flagler County Commission Chairman Dave Sullivan.
The Flagler County Commission included opposition to such pre-emption among its goals this year, as it has for the past three years. Flagler’s and other counties’ and cities’ opposition in previous years defeated deregulation attempts. The momentum this year appears to be with deregulators, however.