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Controversial Short-Term Rental Bill Continues to Linger


BRADENTON — SB 280, a controversial bill passed in this year's session, has yet to become law. In fact, it has not even been sent to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for consideration.

In 2011, Florida lawmakers passed legislation prohibiting local governments from creating ordinances that would restrict vacation rentals. As apps like Airbnb and VRBO exploded, communities pushed back. In 2014, lawmakers answered by amending the law but giving local governments purview only on matters like noise, trash, and parking.

SB 280 further reduces the scope of local authority. It would allow local governments to charge a "reasonable fee" to register the property and issue fines of up to $500 for non-compliance.

Local governments could suspend a property owner's registration for violations of an ordinance that is not specific to vacation rentals, but only if there have been five or more violations on five separate days during a 60-day period. Registration could be suspended for up to 60 days for one or more violations on five separate days during a 30-day period and up to 90 days for one or more violations after two prior suspensions.

SB 280 would require the vacation rentals to state and comply with a maximum overnight occupancy not exceeding either two persons per bedroom plus an additional two persons in one common area or more than two persons per bedroom if there is at least 50 square feet per person, plus an additional two persons in one common area.

The bill requires that a responsible party capable of responding to complaints or emergencies be available by telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and respond by 9 a.m. the following day. The bill was one of the closest votes of this year's session, passing the Florida Senate 27-13 and the Florida House 60-51.

Apps like Airbnb, large-scale vacation home rental owners, vacation rental operators, and real estate brokers have lobbied to limit local ordinances, arguing that vacation rentals are an important part of the economy and that limitations infringe on property rights.

Local governments, however, complain that they are the ones who have to deal with the fallout from having an increased number of vacation renters in close proximity to local residents. The vacation rental craze has also put increased pressure on local housing inventories as homes that were zoned for single-family residences are increasingly purchased for short-term rental investments.

This has been particularly difficult in popular tourist destinations. Increased demand drives up the prices of single-family homes and rental properties for long-term renters, many of whom work in these communities' service economies.

Hotels have also argued in favor of increased regulation, noting that vacation rentals are not subjected to the same level of expensive regulatory requirements, giving their owners an unfair advantage in the marketplace.


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