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Can Your Local Government Ban Short Term Vacation Rentals?

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short term rentalsSouthwest Florida is a prime location for people to bring their family and friends to vacation. Whether it’s the golf, beaches, or just the beautiful weather, Southwest Florida has solidified itself as a great destination for vacations. This has made tourism a major industry, and one of the biggest areas of tourism is hotels and rentals for families staying in the area.

However, in recent years families have been more inclined to try to rent a home for a short period rather than booking a hotel room. According to Section 509.013(4)(a)(1.) of Florida Statutes, a short-term rental is defined as a residence rented for less than thirty days and rented out more than three times a year.

With the rise of the vacation rental industry, local governments and their residents have seen the impacts they have on the community. This led to two major questions – how can local governments regulate these short-term rentals or how can they prohibit them?

History of Short-Term Rentals

Vacation rentals have always been popular but were not always readily available or easy to find. A revolution occurred in the early 2000s with the rise of the internet and along with that came online rental platforms. Now there are many different platforms, such as Airbnb and VRBO, which made short-term rentals much more available. Further, this led to an overall increase in the number of rentals available.

This increase in rentals led to issues amongst local governments and their citizens because of the impacts short-term rentals had on the community, both positive and negative. Local governments began to ban or create regulations around these short-term rentals. Because of the divide and lack of consistency in regulation by local governments, the Florida legislature created a law that prohibited any local government from banning short-term rentals and limited how they may be regulated.

Effect of the New Legislation

The bill passed through the Florida legislature, was signed into law by the Governor and is now codified as Section 509.032 of Florida Statutes. The relevant portion, Section 509.032(7)(b), regarding short-term rental prohibition and regulations states:

A local law, ordinance, or regulation may not prohibit vacation rentals or regulate the duration or frequency of rental of vacation rentals.”

Essentially, after the bill passed in 2011, a local government can no longer create a prohibition on short-term rentals. Further, local governments may not regulate these rentals in a manner that limits the frequency in which they are rented. That said, if a local government already had a prohibition on vacation rentals before 2011, then the prohibition will still be valid. According to Section 509.032(7)(b) this rule:

does not apply to any local law, ordinance, or regulation adopted on or before June 1, 2011.”

Therefore, if a county or municipality already had a prohibition that was expressly stated in the code before June 1, 2011, it will still be valid.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, the law passed by the state of Florida preempts or prevents a local government from enacting a rule that would ban short term rentals. Further, while local governments may regulate certain aspects of vacation rentals they cannot restrict the frequency or duration of rentals. Lastly, if a county or municipality prior to 2011 prohibited short term rentals, then those provisions are valid and grandfathered in.

If you should have any questions or concerns regarding the regulation or prohibition of short term rentals, please contact me by email at taylor.bollt@henlaw.com or phone at 239-344-1361.

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