Now, renting out one’s home or a bedroom on a short-term basis is nothing new. However, our laws have not kept up. In fact, Florida actually went the other way to benefit those who exploit home-sharing as for-profit, commercial businesses under the false pretense of “property rights”.
And guess where those unregulated, commercial businesses with no offices are headquartered? Right inside Florida’s neighborhoods.
These unregulated businesses then went even further and convinced our Legislature to remove what little oversight that existed, with some exceptions for cities who had existing rules, leaving our neighborhoods exposed as a last line of defense against unregulated proliferation of these commercial businesses. Our neighborhoods, in many cases, changed almost overnight. A buyer’s market is a good thing, but in neighborhoods, the opposite happened.
Homes that were sold were snatched up by unidentified operators who did not occupy the homes they purchased. Homes were then rented out by the night with no protections for those living next door, no remedies for guests if something went wrong and no ability for our neighborhoods to know who lived next door, who these operators were or if they were licensed to do business at all.
While some Associations already had protections in place, many did not. Those which did not amended their covenants to halt further proliferation of these commercial businesses inside of their neighborhoods and those efforts continue to this day.
In the 2018 legislative session, some of these commercial operators tried to remove any local government or neighborhood oversight. The Florida Legislature thankfully sided with homeowners and rejected this idea.
However, this year, some lawmakers are backing bills to remove the last vestiges of the few remaining local rules in place to protect the public. These bills unequivocally state that constitutional “property rights” apply to anyone who chooses to rent their home, or multiple homes or hundreds of homes by the night, with no regard for the rules they agreed to comply with.
They say that because vacation rentals are “residential in nature” they therefore are permitted to exist in our neighborhoods, again, with no acknowledgment of the rights of millions of our fellow Floridians who contractually agreed to play by the rules.
At best, these bills, HB 987 and SB 824, create confusion and conflict with adopted or yet to be adopted protections for our neighborhoods, forcing our Associations to increase costs by hiring pricey lawyers to defend the rights of their homeowners.