House looks to limit vacation rental regulations

With supporters focusing on property rights, the House on Friday narrowly approved a bill that would limit the ability of local governments to regulate short-term vacation rentals.

House members voted 63-56 to approve the bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, after a lengthy debate.

La Rosa and other supporters of the bill contend local governments have passed ordinances that go too far in regulating short-term rentals and infringing on property rights, with Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, saying the state needs to step in when local regulations go "amok."

Lawmakers also passed bills in 2011 and 2014 that dealt with local regulation of short-term rentals.

This year's House version would allow regulation of short-term rentals but only if the regulations apply "uniformly to all residential properties without regard to whether the property is used as a vacation rental."

Critics argued that the Legislature should not take away control from local governments and also described short-term rentals used for such things as parties.

"This is not a partisan issue," Rep. Matt Willhite, D-Wellington, said. "This is a residential neighborhood issue."

A Senate version of the bill (SB 188), filed by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, is ready to go to the full Senate.

But the Senate version has significant differences from the House bill.