For the first time, online platforms such as Airbnb would have to collect and remit taxes on vacation rental properties, ensure that only properly licensed rentals are advertised and provide the state with specific information about the rentals, under a proposal headed to the House floor.
In exchange, regulation would be “preempted” to the state, largely preventing local governments from regulating vacation rentals. Local governments could only regulate the rentals in the same way as other properties in neighborhoods, a restriction that cities and counties strenuously oppose.
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. And while local government opposition has been consistent, opposition has not been anywhere near unanimous among residents and property owners, many of whom support broader freedoms to do with their properties as they choose.
The House Commerce Committee on Thursday approved the proposal (HB 1011), with Democrats objecting that decisions about vacation rentals — which have sparked backlash from some homeowners who complain about raucous parties, parking issues and a steady stream of strangers in neighborhoods — are best left up to local officials.
Despite the objections of local government officials, House and Senate leaders brought together a host of affected parties, including Realtors, hotel operators and advertising platforms, to strike a deal that has eluded the Legislature for years.
“This feels like groundhog day,” Florida Association of Counties legislative director Eric Poole told the committee before Thursday’s vote.
Florida already has “a very broad and very deep preemption on vacation rentals,” he said.
Poole cited one report that found the vacation-rental industry generated $1.2 billion in revenue through rentals to 6.6 million guests in Florida last year. The numbers demonstrate that “the local and state regulatory environment remains friendly to short-term rentals” and that local regulations have “helped the industry flourish,” he added.
“We are not stifling commerce. We are pro-vacation rentals. We just would like to have a little bit of home rule authority to address some of the local needs,” Poole said.
Under current law, cities and counties cannot prohibit vacation rentals, or regulate the duration or frequency of the rentals. But local governments are allowed to license and inspect properties.
While the proposed changes would ban ordinances that specifically target vacation rentals, cities and counties would still be allowed to pass ordinances dealing with noise, parking and trash, so long as they apply to all residential properties, the bill’s supporters stressed Thursday.
Much of the debate on the proposal focused on the property rights of people and businesses that own the vacation rentals and the property rights of neighboring homeowners.
“Everybody who owns their property has rights to the property that they purchased,” Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, said. “This debate comes not from the use of property but the nuisance that results from the use of the property.”
Donalds said there aren’t enough hotel beds to accommodate all of the visitors to Naples.
The vacation-rental industry “has been a boon to Southwest Florida,” he said.
But Rep. Javier Fernández, D-South Miami, said that, while he was “heartened” by some of the provisions in the measure, he still had concerns. For example, the proposal would carve out condominium and homeowner associations, but not “single-family neighborhoods,” he said.
“Those owners have property-rights expectations related to their quiet enjoyment of their own property,” Fernández said.
But bill sponsor Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville, said the bill “doesn’t prevent local governments from dealing with issues,” such as “the party house” and noise issues.
“Nothing in this bill encourages the situation of a party house. Nothing in here would stop local governments from passing, I don’t know, noise ordinances and enforcing those noise ordinances,” Fischer said. “Make no mistake, this bill doesn’t do anything to change the power of local governments when it comes to dealing with good-neighbor policies that affect the neighborhood.
Fischer said the measure was based on “common-sense” feedback from numerous “stakeholders.”
The House plan is now headed to the floor for a vote. A Senate version (SB 1128), sponsored by Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, needs to clear one more committee before a full vote in the Senate.
The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association has opposed vacation-rental legislation in the past, but Carol Dover, the group’s president and chief executive officer, told The News Service of Florida on Thursday that she’s backing the proposals.
Dover praised House and Senate leaders for their work on the effort this year. While the measure does not address all of the association’s concerns about vacation rentals, she said she supports “the middle ground that’s been struck” with the proposal.
“It’s not perfect, but it’s a huge leap in the right direction,” Dover said.
–Dara Kam, News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive
So much for Flagler County’s state representatives. Vote them out!
Brian Welch says
It’s my House, If I decide to rent it and register and pay the sales tax then what’s the problem ?
Let’s take a look at the property right issue. If this bill passes as written some residents will have protection. While others will not. If your single family home is located in a home owners association or condo association with prohibition in place you are safe. If you happen to live in a local municipality that adopted ordinances prohibiting these transient public lodging establishments from operating in single family neighborhoods then your safe. But if you live in Flagler County or Palm Coast or any other local municipality in Florida that did not adopt ordinances your property rights are out the window. If this bill passes your neighborhoods will be under attack by investors.
Now let’s look at life/fire safety for the customers using these public lodging dwellings. This is the only business operation that is issued a license from DBPR to operate without a proper inspection. A single family dwelling has the most fire deaths then any other dwelling. Since local governments will now be prevented from conducting these life and fire safety inspections these dwellings will be operating unregulated. Back in 2015 when Flagler County started inspecting these vacation rentals after adopting their ordinances those inspections revealed over 90 percent of these dwellings where operating in non compliance with the Florida Fire Code, Pool safety requirements and other life safety codes. The DBPR does not have the resources to inspect vacation rentals operating in Flagler county let alone the whole State. This is an extreme life hazard waiting to happen. Our local municipalities should at least have the authority to continue these inspections annually for the protection of the public and our first responders.
Another issue that will not be addressed is occupancy. The public lodging industry has adopted standards. Basically using HUD calculations. A bedroom must have 70 square feet of space for one occupant and for each additional occupant you are required to have 50 square feet. So the bedroom must be 120 square feet to accommodate two occupants excluding an infant under one years old. We have had vacation management companies allowing occupancy that exceed this limit. An example is a home with a certificate of occupancy for four bedrooms being leased to 26 people.
This bill should be veto by the a Governor if it reaches his desk. You can not allow unregulated businesses to operate putting lives in jeopardy. What is it going to take before our legislators will act. It will properly take many individuals suffering a serious injury or death.
“A single family dwelling has the most fire deaths then any other dwelling.”
Of course they do, because single family dwellings far outnumber all other residential dwellings combined.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Having read both bills it was simple to find legal defects immediately:
1) Vacation rentals do not all into Black’s Law Dictionary in any form under ‘residence’ – . Nor does either bill even attempt to justify their knowingly illegal use definition of ‘residential, residence’…
Secondly with out any figures or fact both bills (falsely) allege that Florida’s tourism depends upon ‘vacation rentals”.
Private property rights is what they never really detailed whatsoever.
They have not told me we cannot raise ( or rent for the weekend) Alpacas in our almost acre property; nor if we can be a vacation rental for macaws, African greys, amazons and of course Cockatoos.
As a licensed real estate licensee since 1979 and Broker since 1986 any legislator who approves such a bill should be removed from public office and be made to purchase Black’s Law dictionary and memorize every page before being allowed to have the right to vote. They are the real felons – the thieves of our democracy and legal right for local control.
Shame on all you jackasses who vote with your incompetence as well as malfeasance in my opinion instead of your obligations to the people
Soooooo, I have been calling and emailing trying to find out if Condo/HOA
Rental restrictions can be overturned with this Law.
I finally spoke with an attorney in the State and he said he legally was not allowed interpret the law but he wasn’t sure if they were exempt or not.
I read the Law and is doesn’t specifically say one way or another.
Can anyone answer my question ?????
If you want to know your neighbors and you’re not in an HOA, oppose these bills. Arizona passed a similar bill, and Sedona is now 30% short term rental…and rising.
Lake Placid is suffering a similar fate.
These mainly mini hotel investors do NOT care about community, only $$.
The same is largely true of our so-called representatives.
Let the Fl legislators know want to know your neighbors.
Who will be volunteering, working, and patronizing and supporting the community when there are predominantly short-term visitors with no stake in the community.
Ask Arizona. They are trying to dial back their laws that allow unfettered STRs after seeing the consequences after two short years.