Vacation rental regulation changes backed


A Senate committee Thursday approved legislation that would let the state regulate vacation rental properties and eliminate local regulations passed in recent years.

In a 9-1 vote, the Regulated Industries Committee endorsed legislation (SB 1400), sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, that was combined with another measure (SB 1640), sponsored by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs.

Under the proposal, “the state will solely be responsible for the licensing and inspection of vacation rentals,” Steube said.

He also said local governments, which largely oppose the bill, would still be able to pass some regulations so long as they are applied equally to all similar residential properties, including short- and long-term rentals.

“Local governments would still be left to preserve the integrity of their neighborhoods by passing ordinances to address noise, trash, parking or any other behavior that would tend to disturb a residential neighborhood,” he said.

Under the bill, any local government regulations of vacation rentals that existed before June 1, 2011 would remain in place, but ordinances passed since then would be eliminated.

Casey Cook, a lobbyist for the Florida League of Cities, which opposes the bill, urged lawmakers to let cities and other local governments retain the right to inspect vacation homes for building code compliance, including fire safety.

The bill next moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

A House bill (HB 773), sponsored by Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, would also pre-empt local regulation of vacation rentals and is awaiting its first hearing.