Will Short-Term Rentals be Curbed?

In 2017, Airbnb sued to stop Miami from banning property owners and investors from renting out their houses as short-term rentals by issuing $20,000+ fines pursuant to Miami’s local ordinance.  Advocates for short-term rentals reap rental income rewards; while opponents angst over living next to a revolving door of fly-by-nights, nuisances, and insecurity.

Recently, the appellate court in Miami vs. Airbnb identified Florida Statute §509.032 as prohibiting local governments from enacting new laws (after June 1, 2011) that ban or regulate vacation rentals. The court extrapolated, “A local law, ordinance, or regulation may not prohibit vacation rentals or regulate the duration or frequency of rental of vacation rentals.” §509.032(7)(b). Generally, a “vacation rental” is a condo unit, co-op, house, or dwelling unit rented on a “transient” basis to guests more than 3x in a calendar year for periods less than 1 month, or which is held out to the public as a place regularly rented to guests. 

In Florida, vacation rentals play a vital role in tourism, and in-turn, property acquisition of rental homes is also vital to our economy. To address the issue, proposed House Bill 987 and S. B. 824, if one should pass, would retroactively amend short-term rental laws.  They both find that public lodging is preempted to the State (not local governments), and residential property owners have constitutionally protected rights to use their property as vacation rentals.  The bills generally propose prohibiting local governments from usurping State authority to regulate: occupancy limits; inspections; licensing; duration or frequency of rentals; and would additionally require homeowners obtain vacation rental licenses from Florida’s DBPR in case of complaints.  Local governments however would be permitted to regulate advertising platforms on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List. Ironically, in January Gov. Ron DeSantis placed Airbnb on Florida’s scrutinized companies list.

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