- The Florida Senate may soon grant more regulatory control over vacation rentals to local governments, specifically targeting those rented through online platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO.
- The bill allows local governments to require vacation rentals to register, charge fees for processing and inspecting compliance with building and fire codes, and enforce other regulations while adhering to the principle of equal treatment for all property owners.
- While the bill prohibits local laws or regulations banning vacation rentals or controlling their frequency or duration, it allows local governments to charge fees for registration and inspection, and requires advertising platforms to display the vacation rental license number and remove listings without valid license numbers. Failure to register and comply with codes can result in fines.
- State lawmakers and local governments have long battled over authority to regulate vacation rentals in state. The bill seeks to provide more balance between the rights of private property owners and local government.
A Florida Senate bill, SB 714, could soon grant local governments more regulatory control over vacation rentals after it cleared a key Senate Fiscal Policy committee on Tuesday with a 17-3 vote. The bill aims to provide cities and counties with more authority to regulate vacation rentals, particularly those rented through online platforms like AirBnB or VRBO. Local governments have long been at odds with state lawmakers over how to deal with “bad actors” who operate vacation rental properties without regard for local residents.
It’s been a long, pitched battle over the last 15 years, as state lawmakers sought to prevent overzealous local governments from passing ordinances that unfairly targeted vacation rental owners. The pre-emption law, giving the state authority to regulate vacation rentals, sought to eliminate overreaching local tourism regulations that created a complex legal patchwork across the state that triggered expensive lawsuits and stifled Florida’s tourism industry. Previously passed state preemption laws forced local governments to treat all property owners equally, regardless of their residency or voting status.
But now, with SB 714, sponsored by Republican State Senator Nick DiCeglie, local governments would get some of local control back with the authority to require vacation rentals to register, charge fees for processing and inspecting compliance with building and fire codes, and enforce other regulations, all while adhering to the principle of equal treatment for all property owners.
Some key provisions of SB 714 include a prohibition on any local laws or regulations banning vacation rentals or controlling their frequency or duration, with some exceptions. But the bill would also allow local governments to charge fees for registration and inspection of vacation rentals, require owners or operators to provide identification, license information, tax registrations, and maximum occupancy information.
The bill also requires local governments to review registration applications within 15 business days and either accept or deny them, providing reasons for denial if necessary, but allows local governments the authority to terminate or refuse to issue or renew a vacation rental registration under certain circumstances.
Finally, the bill requires advertising platforms to display the vacation rental license number and remove advertisements or listings that do not have valid license numbers within 15 business days after being notified by the division, and mandates that advertising platforms adopt an anti-discrimination policy and inform users that it is illegal to discriminate based on factors such as race, creed, color, sex, pregnancy, physical disability, or national origin.
If the bill is enacted, local governments will be able to impose fines for failure to register vacation rentals and inspect properties for compliance with state building and fire prevention codes.