Vacation rentals have changed the landscape of the tourism industry in Florida in a matter of years, but regulations governing vacation rentals have not evolved at that same pace. Large numbers of visitors are now choosing to stay at short-term vacation rental lodgings offered through websites such as Airbnb.com and Vrbo.com. As the prevalence of short-term vacation rental operations increases, local governments around the state are struggling to balance the competing interests of residents who want to rent out their home, with the interests of residents who want to prevent a mini-hotel from operating in their neighborhood.
The Florida Legislature has wrestled with the proliferation of short-term vacation rentals. In 2011, the Florida Legislature passed HB 833, which curtailed local governments’ abilities to restrict or prohibit vacation rentals. Fla. Stat. §509.032(7) prohibited local governments from imposing new regulations against short-term rentals based on their classification, use or occupancy, unless the regulations were in place before June 1, 2011. This law made it difficult for local governments to adapt existing regulations governing bed and breakfasts, hotels, and other lodgings, to the new short-term vacation rental model. The new law also caused the number of vacation rental operations to skyrocket in areas without existing vacation rental restrictions.
As the number of vacation rental operations increased, local governments around the state were bombarded with requests from concerned residents to put new vacation rental restrictions in place, but Fla. Stat. §509.032(7) effectively prevented local governments from taking any action to address these concerns. Several groups lobbied the Florida legislature to provide additional flexibility to local governments to regulate vacation rentals, and in 2014, the Legislature amended Fla. Stat. §509.032(7). Today, local governments are prohibited from prohibiting vacation rentals, or regulating the duration or frequency of rentals, but local governments are free to impose other reasonable regulations on vacation rentals. As a result, new ordinances regulating vacation rentals are being passed at an alarming rate. As the legal landscape surrounding vacation rentals shifts, the legislative battle over vacation rentals is likely to intensify.
If your clients are considering offering their home for rent as a vacation rental, it is very important to consult with a knowledgeable real estate attorney who can guide them through the process of setting up their vacation rental operation. Vacation rental laws vary widely based on location, so a customized approach is necessary. There are critical tax and land use regulations that may impact the ability to operate a vacation rental, and a failure to abide by these regulations could land your client in hot water with their local code enforcement officer, or worse, the Florida Department of Revenue. On the other side of the fence, if your client is perturbed by the presence of a nearby vacation rental, a knowledgeable real estate attorney can help ensure that your entrepreneurial neighbor is complying with all local regulations applicable to vacation rentals.
Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC
Article Authored by Ben DeMarsh, Esq. firstname.lastname@example.org
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