Legislators pursue local vacation rental regulation


400-JOHN-THRASHER-TRAVIS-HUSt Johns County Representative Travis Hutson and Senator John Thrasher have updated Historic City News on the status of their House (HB 307) and Senate (SB 356) bills; which, if passed, would remove a preemption placed on local governments in 2011.

Currently, cities and counties are prohibited from regulating vacation rentals; defined as a home that is rented for periods of less than 30 days, more than 3 times in a calendar year. Local governments want some of that control back, contending that the nearly 3-year-old state law has allowed little-regulated mini-hotels to grow amid residential communities.

Even though Hutson’s bill passed its first committee in the House, both Republican and Democratic members expressed concerns over the bill and its effect on private property rights. Representative Hutson committed to working on language that addressed property rights; and, the bill was amended in the Local Affairs Committee last month.

Although the amendment continues to prohibit local governments from regulating the frequency or duration of vacation rentals, it allows them to apply other regulations — including noise, parking, etc. The amended bill will be heard in House Regulated Industries, next.

SB 356 passed its first committee of reference and was heard in Senate Community Affairs on February 4. On second reading, it was also amended to allow local regulation of rentals — but, places severe limitations on local governments. Specifically, the amendment prohibits ordinances that limit the frequency of rentals and prohibits local ordinances that would require minimum stays greater than 7 days.

The bills are supported by the Florida League of Cities, among others.

The Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association opposes the proposed changes, according to Association President, Paul Hayes. He is actively lobbying lawmakers and Governor Rick Scott to reject “any legislation that would ban vacation rentals or violate the property rights of these business owners.”

In a statement released to Historic City News Friday, Hayes contends the proposed changes “are risking these jobs and threatening the property rights of owners by allowing the ban of vacation rentals.”

The state Division of Hotels and Restaurants reported that, in 2013, of the 37,155 public lodging establishments in Florida, 10,362 are licensed as vacation rental dwellings.

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