By a vote of 13-5 the Florida Senate’s Committee on Appropriations approved a bill aimed at taking some regulation power away from local governments and giving it to the state.
A last minute amendment to Bill 522 flipped several no votes to yes which will move the bill onto the Senate Rules Committee which meets Thursday at 9AM.
Florida legislators want more oversight on vacation rentals to be sure only legally licensed operators are renting. They also want to collect a tax from digital platforms used to advertise the rentals.
Local governments do not want the state taking away the right for them to regulate short-term rentals. They believe they know their neighborhoods better than anyone in Tallahassee.
Some state lawmakers do not want local governments treating short-term rentals any differently than they do other homeowners in a particular neighborhood. They want all homeowners to be treated equally. The response to that is that local governments need to do what they have to do to prevent neighborhoods from overflowing with crazy party houses.
The state bill pre-empts local governments from regulating the duration or frequency of short-term vacation rentals. Originally, if a local government like Fort Myers Beach or Sanibel had a law on the books prior to June 1, 2011, they were grandfathered in. The amendment appears to have moved that up to the current day. In other words if a local government created a vacation rental law last week or even yesterday they are also grandfathered in. That change appears to have both sides closer to agreement and flipped a few no votes to yes on Thursday.
The amendment also says that local governments cannot make new laws that are more restrictive than what they have now. They could make laws less restrictive. Any local government that does not have any law on the books would be out of luck.
How any of this is enforced by the state remains to be seen. On Fort Myers Beach it’s up to the code enforcement office to follow up on complaints from neighbors when it comes to vacation rental owners they believe are not following the rules.
Tomorrow morning on Beach Talk Radio Tara Taggert from the League of Cities joins us at 9:00 to discuss the issue.