Vacation rental fight back on the menu when 2022 Session starts next week

by | Jan 7, 2022

The never-ending vacation rental battle between private property owners and local government officials is teed up for another round when lawmakers kick of the 2022 legislative session next week. Two identical bills have been filed in the Senate (SB 512) and House (HB 325) that seek to preempt local control over online vacation-rental platforms like Airbnb, and give that authority to the state.

The bills would not revoke local control over registration requirements and certain other aspects of operating a vacation rental property.

State Representative Jason Fischer and State Senator Danny Burgess, both Republicans, filed the bills in their respective chambers.

The see-saw battle between local and state officials over who has the authority to regulate private property has intensified as the popularity of vacation rental homes has exploded in Florida and around the nation. Local officials say residents who live near high-density vacation rental properties have little recourse when out-of-town vacations party late into the night, park multiple cars on streets, and overfill trash cans during a week of reveling in the Sunshine State.

But state lawmakers are sympathetic to private property owners who say they have a right to operate their property under the same rules as permanent residents. They argue local officials trample their rights when they single out vacation rental properties and subject them to rules and regulations that other local residents aren’t required to follow, including fire inspection and readiness requirements, sanitary requirements, loudness ordinances that specifically target rental properties, and other local efforts to single out vacation rental properties.

The challenge for state lawmakers is to find a balance that recognizes and allows for the unique regulatory needs of each local community while avoiding a confusing, byzantine patchwork of local ordinances that make it more difficult for tourists to compare vacation rental options and could hurt Florida’s overall tourism economy.

The Senate’s version of the bill is scheduled to be taken up by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee shortly after the ceremonial start of the 2022 Session in Tallahassee on Tuesday.


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