DeSantis vetoes contentious vacation rental legislation

by | Jun 27, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed legislation on Thursday that aimed to standardize vacation rental regulations across Florida, citing concerns about increased bureaucracy and reduced local governance.

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed legislation on Thursday aimed at regulating vacation rentals across Florida, citing concerns over increased bureaucracy and limitations on local governance.

Senate Bill 280, introduced by Sen. Nick DiCeglie, proposed a series of measures to standardize vacation rental regulations statewide, ostensibly limiting the municipal ability to regulate vacation rentals, a notion DeSantis concurred with, arguing it would hinder local authorities’ ability to manage the distinct needs of their communities.

As drafted, the measure sought to create a uniform regulatory framework for vacation rentals, defined as units rented more than three times a year for periods shorter than 30 days. The bill mandated that operators listing vacation rentals on advertising platforms must collect and remit specified taxes. It also preempted local governments from regulating these advertising platforms, instead placing this authority at the state level.

Another stipulation would have allowed local governments to establish vacation rental registration programs. The programs would require annual renewals and inspections to ensure compliance with the Florida Building Code and the Florida Fire Prevention Code. Local authorities would be authorized to impose fines and liens for violations, with the potential for foreclosure if fines remained unpaid. Additionally, the bill permitted local governments to suspend or revoke vacation rental registrations after repeated violations.

To facilitate these regulations, the bill proposed the creation of a statewide vacation rental information system. This system would enable the verification of vacation rental licenses and registrations, requiring advertising platforms to provide quarterly lists of rental properties and remove non-compliant listings.

In his veto transmission letter, DeSantis expressed concern that the bill would create new bureaucratic hurdles for local governments and effectively prevent them from enforcing existing ordinances or passing new measures that exclusively apply to vacation rentals, specifically noting that the bill’s requirement for uniform application of regulations to all residential properties would undermine local authorities’ ability to address the characteristics and issues of vacation rental markets in different areas of the state.

“Beyond creating new bureaucratic red tape that locals must comply with, CS/SB 280 prevents local governments from enforcing existing ordinances or passing any new local measure which would exclusively apply to all vacation rentals,” DeSantis wrote. “The effect of this provision will prevent virtually all local regulation of vacation rentals even though the vacation rental markets are far from uniform across the various regions of the state.”

“Going forward, I encourage the Florida Legislature and all key stakeholders to work together, with the understanding that vacation rentals should not be approached as a one-size-fits-all issue,” DeSantis added.

In response, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, a key hospitality trade group in the state, expressed disappointment in the veto.

“We were proud to work with the bill sponsors and have this important legislation pass this Session as a solid framework and first step for regulatory reform in the sector,” the group said in a statement to The Capitolist. “We are disappointed with Governor DeSantis’ veto but will continue with our efforts to work toward a resolution and ensure equity across Florida’s lodging industry – from vacation rentals to hotels – to best serve our guests and promote their safety.”


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