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Florida Cities Push Back On Airbnb Rules

An Airbnb sign.
Wikimedia Commons

Lawmakers in Tallahassee are closer to enacting statewide regulations on short-term rentals. But local governments, which have set their own rules, are opposed to the proposal.  

House Bill 987 would preempt local regulations on vacation rentals offered through Airbnb, VRBO, and other companies.  

The legislature passed a similar preemption bill in 2011 (cities that had rules in place prior to the bill’s effective date were exempt). The restrictions were loosened in 2014, as short-term rentals grew in popularity.  

Rep. James Grant (R-Tampa), the current bill’s sponsor, said there should be a single standard statewide.

"What that does is protect all of our constituents and the property they own on the basis that they cannot be discriminated against just by the type of use," Grant told the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday.  

Grant’s bill has support from Airbnb, the Florida Chamber, and Americans for Prosperity. But the Commerce Committee heard from several local officials who are worried that the bill would take away tools to stop the proliferation of vacation rentals.  

Casey Cook of the Florida League of Cities said his members know best how to handle regulation.  

"I think it's safe to say that local governments that have an inspection requirement that know about the properties are inspecting all of those properties within their jurisdiction,” Cook told the committee.  

The panel also heard from groups representing condominiums and homeowner associations, who worry the bill would nullify their restrictions on short-term rentals. The committee approved an amendment to the bill that exempts HOAs and condos from the preemption. 

Three House panels have now signed off on the bill. Grant said further changes are likely before it reaches the House floor. The Senate is considering a similar bill.

Bradley George was a Morning Edition host and reporter at WUSF until March 2022.
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