Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bill on Rentals Losing Its Teeth

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bill on Rentals Losing Its Teeth

Article excerpt

VACATION VICTORY: House version of bill gives local governments less latitude

Vacation rental owners appear to have fought off efforts to allow cities and counties in Florida once again to ban some types of short- term rentals.

The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that gives local governments limited control over rentals but not the regulatory power many were seeking.

City and county officials have supported a Senate version that would give local governments greater latitude to crack down on the rentals. But the House bill seems likely to win out in the final two days of the legislative session.

Nightly and weekly vacation home and condominium rentals have been a hot-button issue in some Southwest Florida beach communities, including Venice, Anna Maria and Holmes Beach. Full-time residents often complain about trash, noise and parking problems.

But many House members staunchly opposed restoring the ability of local governments to impose minimum-stay requirements or ban short- term rentals altogether, an authority that was revoked by the Legislature in 2011 after rental owners raised concerns about the increasing number of local regulations.

Even the watered-down House version of the rental oversight bill continued to draw criticism Wednesday, although it cleared the chamber by a comfortable 90-27 margin. The legislation allows local governments to adopt ordinances targeted specifically at rental properties, such as an inspection program or trash rules.

But unlike the Senate bill -- which was amended to protect weekly rentals while allowing prohibitions on nightly or weekend rentals -- no minimum-stay requirement could be imposed under the House legislation. That was enough to win over some property rights advocates.

Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, said he was originally a strong opponent of the legislation but believes the House bill eventually found the "right balance. …

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