March 10, 2018 — Bills proposed in the Florida legislature would remove local control of short term rentals offered by companies like Airbnb, HomeAway, etc., and place it in the hands of the State. The online companies are lobbying for passage of the bills, since that would open up all areas of the state to rentals as short as one night. Local communities oppose the bill because they would lose the right to regulate what is often a problematic issue in many communities, particularly resort areas. It is a complex issue with the same people often having two different opinions on it: while at least half of the population would be happy to use one of these services for a short term vacation rental, but the vast majority of homeowners are against having them in their own neighborhoods.
The bill is euphemistically called “The Private Property Rights of Homeowners”, SB 824. The bill’s sponsor is State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr,. of Hialeah. If passed, it would give the Florida legislature the preemptive right to regulate vacation rights – local governments would have to abide by whatever the state decides. A group in northern Florida has been active in the fight against it. That organization believes that each local community knows best what should be permitted when it comes to rentals, citing many problems such as noise, traffic, and general mayhem when vacationers invade local neighborhoods. The problem is made worse when absentee owners buy up large number of homes and/or apartments and rent them out. That has a deleterious impact on affordable housing.
“Living in Florida” posted a survey about short-term vacation rentals on the popular social network site “Next Door” that included 14 communities in Flagler County, Florida, along with additional Flagler County residents. Survey responses were submitted anonymously on Survey Monkey, which precluded participants from responding more than once. Residents receiving the survey live in communities with and without HOAs, both gated and non-gated. The survey was designed to elicit responses from a resident’s (rather than a vacationer or investor/business owner’s) point of view. Living in Florida received 409 responses between February 25 – March 1. More than 93% of respondents are registered voters.
The results were emphatic – homeowners do not want short term vacation rentals in their neighborhoods. They are also completely against state regulatory control of this issue (or putting it another way, 94% think it should be under local control). Note that Topretirements has created a survey on this topic, early results for which are similar to those from Living in Florida’s. Here is where you can take the survey – we would love to hear your opinion!
The results from Living in Florida’s survey:
1. Would you choose to purchase a home next door to an investor-owned (no owner present), short-term vacation rental in a residential neighborhood that is zoned single family?
2. Should your next door neighbors have the right to rent their home as a short-term vacation rental any time they want (with the ownerpresent or not), if they are located in a community zoned single family?
3. Do you believe that short-term vacation rentals bring more traffic, trash, noise, and safety concerns to a neighborhood?
4. Do you believe that living in a community where you know your neighbors is important to your quality of life?
5. Do you agree that unlimited short-term vacation rentals are okay, but not in communities that are zoned single family or in gated communities?
6. Do you feel that local communities, rather than state legislators, know what is best for their own communities?
7. Are you a registered Florida voter?
Comments: Please share your opinions – in favor, against, or whatever in the Comments section below. In our opinion it is an important issue, one that could have a big impact on the neighborhood where you decide to retire, particularly if it is an area popular with tourists.