Florida lawmakers consider regulatory changes regarding vacation rental properties

The Florida legislature is reversing vacation rental legislation as part of a long-running effort to determine how much say municipalities should have in regulating such properties.

“It’s a problem that’s been around for a while, but it’s not your vacation rental bill of yesteryear,” says Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills. “I really think what we have here is a real balance in strength, and I think you’ll hear that from the stakeholders.”

Burgess introduced the latest bill, which has an identical version in the House. The legislation takes away the authority of local government to regulate advertising platforms like Airbnb, preempting that from the state. It also requires these platforms to collect and remit taxes on certain transactions.

Current law does not permit local ordinances or regulations that prohibit vacation rentals or dictate the length or frequency of such rentals.

“I remember this problem when I was in the House, and it was a war,” Burgess told the Senate Trade and Tourism Committee. have the ability to regulate where they need to.

Burgess’s bill says local governments can require registration of vacation rental properties and impose fines on those who don’t comply. Registration fees cannot exceed $50. Additionally, anyone advertising on vacation rental platforms must include certain information about the property and certify that this information is accurate.

“Politically, if the legislature wants a third party like an ad platform to collect and remit taxes, and of course regulate third party ad platforms at the state level, we support that.” , said lobbyist Jennifer Green. , speaking on behalf of the travel booking site Expedia.

Vacation rentals are licensed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

Samantha Padgett of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association says her group hasn’t spoken out for or against the bill. She says they strongly support some of the provisions, such as requiring ad platforms to remit taxes and verify state license number before a unit is posted for rental.

“But we think there are additional provisions that need to be addressed in this bill if it really wants to achieve that real balance that Senator Burgess referred to,” Padgett told the committee. “For example, there is no quarterly reporting to DBPR and no requirement to share a unit’s physical address. One license number can represent up to 75 different individual units, and without a physical list of particular address of a unit can make enforcement action very difficult.

Padgett also opposes a provision that an advertising platform is not liable if it adheres in good faith to what is required by law or in its own terms of use.

“I’m sure we’d all love to set our own rules and terms of use,” Padgett said, “but that doesn’t seem like a great way to ensure full compliance.”

Padgett called the bill a good start. She says her group hopes to work with the sponsors of the bill as it moves through the committee process.

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