November 17, 2013 –Recently, Florida House Bill 883 has been under attack. A few local governments are wanting to control the use of vacation rentals in the state of Florida, and are pushing the governor and legislators to repeal the bill.
In 2011, Florida legislators passed House Bill 883, which blocked local governments from “regulating, restricting or prohibiting” vacation rentals and, with some grandfathered exceptions, giving control over vacation rentals to the state. The bill assured Florida property owners could rent their home, and limited local governments from enacting new ordinances to govern residential rentals. Regulations which existed on July 1, 2011, were grandfathered in, but no new restrictions are allowed.
State Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, is leading a movement to repeal the law. Under new legislation proposed by Sen. Thrasher in late October, House Bill 883 would be repealed, which would then allow local governments to ban or impose restrictions on vacation rentals in residential areas.
Paul Hayes, President of Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association, said, “Repealing the preemption language from Chapter 509, has the ability to really devastate the vacation rental industry in areas around Florida. This is really coming from a very vocal minority in certain communities in Flagler County.”
“I want to look at it, I want to understand the issue,” Florida Governor Rick Scott told the Bradenton Herald following a meeting with Manatee County leaders who are in support of repealing the bill. “They’re going to give me information. I think they said Sen. Thrasher and Rep. (Travis) Hudson were going to do a repeal law, so as soon I get the information we’ll look at it.”
“This is only phase one, the first step in a long process,” Thrasher’s representative said. “It’s now in draft form and has to go to committee, then return to the Senate. If the Senate approves it, the bill then goes to the house for the same process,” he said.
Sen. Thrasher said he heard stories from residents living adjacent to what are being called “party rentals.” One constituent told Thrasher that an unintended consequence of HB 883 was that too many people rent and stay in one vacation home at the same time. Local governments were powerless to regulate the overuse.
Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn was pleased to hear Thrasher proposed a repeal bill, but added she thought Thrasher would only seek to repeal section 7(b) of the bill, which took away the local government’s ability to legislate vacation rentals in residential areas. “I don’t know all the particulars and I want to look at those,” the mayor said of Thrasher’s repeal. “But at least it’s a start toward a compromise solution.”
SueLynn said she is not concerned with the majority of vacation renters who just want a quiet, peaceful vacation in Anna Maria. “It’s the party people who cause the problems,” she said.
According to Hayes, “Vacation rental managers in Anna Maria Island have adopted ‘best practices” to ease the local concerns & complaints with great success so far, but the elected officials are refusing to acknowledge there isn’t a significant problem. This really is about the balance of property rights between neighbors. The purpose of HB 883 was for local governments to find the balance through changes to ordinances for building size, noise, parking & trash, for example, that consistently apply to neighborhoods in their locale, regardless of who is residing in the home. The local cities and counties are refusing to exercise these powers to strike a balance. They are throwing their hands up in defeat and turning to the legislature which is being asked to assert that one homeowner’s property rights are of a greater importance than their neighbor’s property rights.”