Vacation rental bills could bring changes to Florida

A Home for Sale by the Lauer Real Estate Group.
Photo Submitted by Cierra Richardson.

While Florida is a prime destination for tourists to enjoy a get-away vacation, two proposed bills involving vacation rental properties may affect the tourism industry.

Senate Bill 1400, sponsored by Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, plans to preempt local governments from regulating and controlling vacation rentals and give that power to the state. Also, House Bill 773, sponsored by Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, requires uniform application of local laws, ordinances or regulations for vacation rentals.

With these two proposed bills, lawmakers are looking to protect the economic benefits of rentals and to preserve the rights of homeowners, according to their sponsors.

“Private property rights are by far the most enduring rights people have in the United States, and here in Florida,” La Rosa said. “The last thing we want is for someone’s rights to be violated.”

Some lawmakers believe that local government regulation of vacation rentals did not protect homeowner’s property, particularly regarding cleanliness, noise and property value.

With HB 773, La Rosa plans to regulate activities that arise when a property is used as a vacation rental.

For home-sharing services like Airbnb and HomeAway, these proposed bills will give the state oversight of vacation rental properties.

Tallahassee resident Ryan Brown isn’t sure he likes where the Legislature is headed.

“These bills will affect my business in a huge away. As a vacation property owner, this gives the state an opportunity to control how I rent out my property,” Brown said.

Larea Burton, a frequent user of Airbnb, wonders if these bills become law if there will be fewer options for her.

“With state regulation, I think it may limit the number of vacation rentals for me to select from and also who I choose to rent from,” said Burton.

Although rental owners are unsure about the bills, lawmakers hope to provide vacation rental owners with a bill that balances their individual property owner rights and state authority regulations.

The two proposed bills will allow vacation rental properties to be regulated largely like hotels and motels. Owners who rent five or more properties would be subjected to inspections twice a year, according to these bills.

HB 773 also added two amendments that could require notification of law enforcement, nearby residents and hotel guests if sexual offenders or predators rent vacation homes or hotel rooms.

HB 773 is pending review of Committee Substitute under Rule 7.18 and SB 1400 is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

If the legislation passes, state regulation of vacation rentals could be effective starting in July.