TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Republicans in the Florida Senate said they will pass new rules regulating short-term vacation rentals in the coming days. The controversial bill would give the state more power to regulate the properties over the cities in which they reside.
SB 280 was supposed to get a floor vote earlier Thursday, but that didn’t happen. The bill sponsor was absent, forcing a postponement. Leadership said that’s only temporary and that this vacation rental bill is getting through the upper chamber in the coming days.
Short-term vacation rentals have become a growing source of frustration for Floridians living in vacation destinations. Complaints include include raucous parties late at night, a regular feature in some communities with the rise of rental sites like Vrbo and Airbnb, annoying neighbors who live nearby.
Cities have tried to crack down with a litany of ordinances and rules, but now SB 280 seeks to strip local governments of some of their authority to regulate those rentals and turn that power over to the state.
“I’m fully supportive of it,” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said Thursday.
She told reporters the bill is a collaboration between the chambers to create more uniform and simple rules for short-term rentals. It also allows communities to register the properties to better know how many exist and who’s running them.
“People are jumping in the pool, making noise,” Passidomo said. “Who do you talk to? Who is the owner? It’s just a registration thing. It kinda makes sense. It’s not a prescriptive bill. It’s a common-sense bill. We just want to know who is staying there.”
Some local governments are taking issue, saying the registration powers are too weak and the state control is too great, potentially leaving cities and counties without much of a toolbox to combat problem properties.
“SB 280 will remove the ability for local communities to distinguish short-term rentals from residential homes,” David Will, the mayor of Redington Beach, said.
He told lawmakers his concerns during a committee meeting earlier this month.
“If this bill were to pass, we could not distinguish noise parking and trash between short-term rentals and regular homes,” Will said.
There’s still time for the policy to morph and leadership said it’s a “work in progress.” That suggests more changes before it gets on the governor’s desk, a prospect high-ranking Republicans believe will happen before the session gavels out in March.
So, when will the Senate actually vote on SB 280? It could come as soon as next week. After that, it’ll need to get through the Florida House, where more changes could be in store.