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Limits on the number of guests are among the vacation rental rules passed in Bradenton

apartment and condo buildings next to water and bridges
Manatee County Government
An ordinance approved by the Bradenton City Council includes the establishment of a licensing program for vacation rentals, as well as rules that will require landlords to have their properties inspected.

The city council has green-lit a new set of rules that will, among other things, require landlords to register their properties and limit the amount of guests per rental.

Vacation rental property owners in Bradenton will now have to abide by new rules put in place by the city council.

The ordinance includes the establishment of a licensing program, as well as rules that will require landlords to have their properties inspected.

Owners use services like Airbnb and Vrbo to rent their properties out, and they often promote the ability to welcome larger parties. But, under the new rules, the number of guests will be restricted to 12 per home, regardless of the size of the property.

A number of Bradenton residents have expressed concerns over short-term rentals, with issues relating to parking and the handling of garbage, as well as noise complaints. The city often struggles to get in touch with landlords in the event of a disturbance, which is what pushed officials to draft a requirement to register such properties.

City councilwoman Marianne Barnebey said that, because of the number of complaints from residents, something needed to be done.

“I'm sorry to have to change how things operate, but (rental property owners) got a good deal for a long time,” said Barnebey. “You are operating a business, this is the cost of doing business in Bradenton.”

Officials have also expressed concerns over the ethics of running vacation rentals in residential areas.

“An Airbnb or short-term rental is pretty much an end run around the zoning rules,” Barnebey added. “Having someone take a single-family home and turn it into a boarding house can cause problems in a neighborhood.”

Not everyone agrees with the council’s decision.

Max Brandow of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee said the ordinance will likely hurt property owners, and won’t be effective.

"I do think they were attempting to make operating a vacation rental as expensive, difficult, and burdensome as possible,” Brandow said. “They’re using a sledgehammer to kill a fly here, and I don’t even know if they’re going to kill the fly.”

Brandow also pointed out that the city already has ordinances in place aimed at preventing the kind of parking and garbage issues that are often cited in residents’ complaints.

“I think this was kind of ramrodded through. We’re disappointed with the process altogether,” Brandow added. “I think its government at its worst, to be honest with you.”

There were a few items removed from the original draft of the ordinance, like the requirement to have a working landline phone, and the need to keep record of previous guests for the last two years. The council members agreed that some of these requirements were a little too burdensome.

The Florida Legislature is also currently looking into similar concerns with Senate Bill 512, titled “Vacation Rentals.” The bill, sponsored by Sen. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills), would expand local governments’ authority on short-term rentals.

Currently, municipalities are limited in their ability to deal with vacation rental complaints.

“We cannot eliminate Airbnbs, we cannot say where they can operate, we cannot say how many times they can be rented during a year, we have no authority to do that,” said Barnebey.

“The little bit of authority that we have is to try and at least make sure that we know where and how many rental units there are.”

The Senate Bill has cleared its second committee, and will now head to the Appropriations Committee before going to the full Senate. A similar bill (HB 325) is making its way through the House.

I am a WUSF Rush Family/USF Zimmerman School Digital News Intern for the spring 2022 semester; this is my second internship with the station.