Lawmakers push vacation rental preemption forward

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Local governments could lose what little control they have over short term vacation rentals like Airbnb under a bill passed through its final House committee Thursday.

Heat maps show the widespread popularity of short term rentals like AirBNB. (MGN)

Homeowners who’ve had bad experiences living next to the rentals worry the state won’t be able to address their individual concerns.

Heat maps show the widespread popularity of short term rentals like Airbnb.

One of the dots represents an Airbnb in Tallahassee, which Jean Hulse said has turned her once quiet neighborhood into a nightmare.

“She's renting the entire house for bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, weddings, legislative events. It's an event planning business,” said Hulse.

Hulse brought her story to lawmakers, as they considered legislation that would strip away the last tools local governments have to regulate short term rentals: the authority to license and inspect the properties.

“The bill in front of you today, if approved, upends my ability to turn to my local government for help,” said Hulse.

The authority to license and inspect short term rentals would be placed under the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation if the bill becomes law.

Local governments could also still regulate short term rentals to some degree, as long as any ordinance they pass applies to all homes the same, short term rental or not.

“They still have the ability to pass 'Good Neighbor' ordinances and so if there's an issue with noise or there's an issue with parking or things like that local governments are still able to address those issues,” said bill sponsor Representative Jason Fischer. "What we did do was preempt the regulation of the platforms and the vacation rentals themselves, the licensing of it, that was preempted to the state level and that way it's clear and consistent for everybody anywhere that they go in the state of Florida.”

But Hulse argued further preempting local control over short term rentals evaporates any remaining hope for a resolution in her situation.

“Nobody wants to live next to an Airbnb. So my option to sell my home, I don't even think is there anymore. So we're kind of stuck,” said Hulse.

Any ordinances regulating short term rentals passed before 2011 won’t be affected by the legislation.