By Travis Hutson
Last year, in preparation for this current legislative session, Rep. Paul Renner and I took time to discuss the issues regarding vacation rentals at a public workshop in Flagler.
As we went through the workshop, we both expressed that the chances of a vacation rental bill passing this year were high.
Now that we are almost halfway through session, the Senate Community Affairs Committee has produced a hybrid bill from both Sen. Greg Steube’s SB 1400 and Sen. David Simmons’ SB 1640, considered to be pro-vacation rental and pro-local control, respectively. This combined bill will be heard in my Regulated Industries Committee in the Senate this week.
The vacation rental bill in its current form requires licensing of vacation rentals and provides a system of fines and revocation of license for bad actors. The bill also imposes an occupancy limit. In addition, the bill requires biannual inspections of vacation rentals that operate more as commercial entities. These inspections are very similar to hotel and motel inspections in regard to fire safety and ingress and egress.
From our community workshop regarding vacation rentals, all commissioners mentioned that inspections and occupancy limits were important to them, and I am comfortable that the current bill address those concerns in some fashion.
The only other thing that I want to personally ensure is that this bill does not affect HOAs’ and COAs’ governing bylaws. To add further protections for those who expressed fears at our workshop, I will be offering an amendment to clarify that HOAs and COAs maintain their constitutional right to regulate vacation rentals through their documents.
I believe with my amendment, this bill resolves both property-rights and quality-of-life concerns that Flagler residents raised at the workshop.
Travis Hutson represents District 7 in the Florida Senate.