by: Scott Powers
In an annual rite of legislation, the Florida Senate is preparing again to consider making regulation of vacation rental homes and their marketing platforms a statewide process.
This year’s most likely main legislative vehicles are Republican Sen. Danny Burgess‘ Senate Bill 512 and Republican Rep. Jason Fischer‘s House Bill 325. They are much like the final version of last year’s effort — which made it further through the Legislative Process than most efforts in previous years — but it still died in the Session’s closing days.
This year’s effort likely draws the same largely nonpartisan political battle lines between proponents of the 21st century disruptive lodging business best known through the marketing platforms Airbnb and VRBO, and those who see the vacation homes, apartments, condos and rental rooms as mini-hotels slipped into residential neighborhoods, which can be, at their worst, spring breakers’ party centrals.
“Vacation rentals have become a perennial issue that I hope to help resolve,” Burgess said. “Last year, the Legislature brought all the stakeholders to the table and made some real progress. I look forward to building upon the foundation they have laid and working out a solution that puts this issue to bed.”
The thousands of Floridians making some money off a spare bedroom, apartment, or house want this issue seen as an entrepreneurial matter of property rights. If they let a few guests stay in their private home for a fee, whose business is that?
Florida’s traditional lodging industry wants — for the sake of business fairness, public safety and anti-discrimination concerns — to see regulation much like what hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts follow.
Cities and counties want vacation rentals regulated locally — under the assumption that houses that accommodate fresh sets of tourists every weekend might be good fits for Sanibel, but maybe not so good for Winter Park.
The marketing platforms want uniform regulation, so they’re not having to thread one complex law in Key West and yet another in Panama City Beach, for example.
Already, under city ordinances enacted before the Legislature preempted future vacation