Courtesy of TC Palm
Published November 27, 2017
Lori Killinger wielded about 600 pages of rules and
regulations when she stood before a panel of state senators recently.
The Florida Vacation
Rental Management Association lobbyist brought the stack of
documents — 38 separate ordinances passed by cities and
counties since 2014 — to a Senate committee meeting.
Killinger got her turn to speak after listening to two hours
of testimony from local government and lodging lobbyists, as
well as academics and local government officials.
“You can blame the Internet for where we are,” Killinger
said as she sought to rebut the locals' testimony.
Florida lawmakers plan to step into the middle of the feud
between local governments and property owners over
short-term rentals when they gather in Tallahassee in
January for the 2018 legislative session.
Florida, along with several other states, including
Massachusetts, New York, Georgia, Indiana and Hawaii, is
wrestling with how to regulate homeowners who rent a room or
the entire house for a couple of days or months, say for a
football weekend, an escape to the beach or spring training.
State Sen. David Simmons asked industry members for
more information during a workshop on vacation rentals.
When online companies merged a Florida tradition — inviting
friends down for a Sunshine vacation — with digital
technology, they opened a door for mom-and-pop operations to
engage in the short-term vacation rental industry, industry
The number of vacation rental units in Florida has increased from 117,000 in
2012 to 131,000 in 2016. Lawmakers will try to figure out if the increase is
from homeowners using apps and services like Airbnb to rent extra space or
if some elements are exploiting loopholes in state law.
State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte, dissected witnesses' testimony with
those numbers in mind. The dispute simmering among hotel operators,
short-term booking companies, homeowners associations and local governments
is one of the issues that spills over into the January session from 2017.
Simmons noted that just 18,000 licenses are attached to the 131,000 units.
Short-term rentals face different regulations than hotels and motels.
Simmons wondered if some property managers, some of whom have assembled up
to 75 units under one license, had found a loophole to exploit at the
expense of Florida’s number one industry – tourism.
“There’s nothing to ensure the integrity of what’s being done. We’re talking
about fire safety or just the safety of the location,” said Simmons. “What
assurances do we have for the safety and quality for the person, customer of
a vacation rental?”
In Tallahassee, there can be as many as 800 rental units available at any
given time through online applications like Airbnb, Home Away and Gameday