Airbnb, VRBO and other short-term rental platforms have changed tourism and lodging in Florida and throughout the country. But these innovative and short-term rentals have also faced traditional land use challenges such as dealing with a hodge-podge of local zoning ordinances. A Florida state legislative committee, however, approved a bill that would remove these rentals from most local regulation and impose state-wide requirements.

Local governments would, if the measure is passed, lose zoning jurisdiction over rentals offered through advertising platforms which offer software and online access to listings for transient public lodging establishments. These zoning regulations would be valid only if they applied to all properties including long-term rentals and owner-occupied homes.

Any zoning regulations passed before June 2011 could remain in effect. Laws passed between 2011 and 2020, however, would be limited so that local zoning could not target short-term rentals.

The bill would impose obligations for owners of these properties. These include:

  • Requirements for displaying vacation rental dwelling license, sales tax and tourist development tax information
  • Quarterly verification with the provision that properties with violations are removed from platforms within 15 days
  • Undergo property audits and face enforcement to assist tax collection

Like other proposals that restrict local home rule, the measure was criticized for not recognizing that different localities have specific problems. Citizens groups and local officials argued that party houses would be rented out in quiet neighborhoods. Officials claimed that short-term rentals have been used for pornographic films, human trafficking and illegal drugs.

There were also objections that a state agency comprised of only six state officials with jurisdiction over these properties would not have the resources to oversee regulation proceedings in 67 counties. One group argued that homesteaded and owner-occupied properties should be protected, and the focus placed on investor-run and limited liability run properties that are responsible for most public safety problems.

An attorney can help individuals and businesses deal with these type of zoning issues. They can help assure that they are represented in all proceedings.