Control of Short Term Vacation Rentals May Return to Local Government

This battle is statewide, but most evident locally in the Hammock where new 10 bedroom homes resembling mini-hotels are invading residential neighborhoods.

Palm Coast, FL – February 5, 2014 – A local battle pitting builders and vacation home rental companies on one side against Hammock residential homeowners on the other is being played out in Tallahassee.

Bills sponsored by State Senator John Thrasher and State Representative Travis Hutson to return local home-rule control of short term vacation rentals moved forward yesterday. The State Senate Committee on Community Affairs voted 6 to 2 in favor of the Senate bill while the State House subcommittee on Business and Professional Regulation voted 12 to 3 in favor of the House bill.

Flagler County Commission Vice Chairman Frank Meeker and Commissioner Charles Ericksen Jr. attended both committee hearings to support Senator Thrasher and Representative Hutson.  Prior to the hearings, they also spent time speaking with individual legislative members and their staffs of both committees.

Numerous representatives of local government also traveled to Tallahassee to voice their support of the bills and describe the problems they were experiencing in their communities. 

"It is important for the Legislature to respect the property rights of individuals who invest their life savings in buying a home in a single-family neighborhood,” Vice Chairman Meeker said. “Then later they discover a mini-hotel moving in next door. The citizens come to local government and we have no power to address these problems because of the 2011 law."

Commissioner Ericksen said the three hours of prep time with legislators and staff was time well spent. “Some told us right off the bat they were for or against the bill and we pressed them on why.  This information gave us the ability to get more yes votes.  It really made a difference."

The bill received unanimous support last month before the State Senate Committee on Regulated Industries. Commissioners Meeker and Ericksen also participated in that hearing on behalf of Flagler County.

“I believe our community’s genuine heartfelt passion has inspired the members of the Florida Legislature that this is the right thing to do,” County Commission Chairman George Hanns said. “I’m proud that our County Commission is strongly united in this goal.”

Flagler County, with the assistance of its State Legislative Delegation, is attempting to amend House Bill 883 passed in 2011 which took away all home rule rights of local communities regarding short term vacation rental properties.

Home- rule authority is a right provided to local communities by the Florida Constitution for self governance on local community issues. The result of that bill was a proliferation of mini-hotels permitted as super-sized homes in residential neighborhoods being rented to four to six families at a time without the same rules or oversight a typical hotel/motel.

Short term vacation rental homes with sometimes more than 20 people in one home are creating parking, noise and other problems in residential neighborhoods. The law also triggered the modifying of existing homes into Mini-hotels to accommodate even larger groups of short term renters without the same public safeguards and protections of other lodging establishments.

The 2011 local preemption legislation gave exclusive regulation of vacation homes to the State unless there were already local ordinances in place and exempted some jurisdictions altogether. The regulation was turned over to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Flagler County Commissioners and county staff have been traveling, emailing, calling and speaking statewide seeking support for a bill that would return regulation of vacation home rentals to local government.

The next stop for Senate bill is onto the Senate floor for final adoption.   The House has two more committee hearings before it reaches the House floor.

2 replies
    BONNIE says:


    Homeowners who spent their life earnings to live here in Flagler County should not have to worry about any type of vacation renters.
    We came here to have a peaceful lifestyle and retire with the beauty of this area and do not want it to be marred by bad publicity, or individuals who do not respect our way of living.

  2. Ronald J. Boyce
    Ronald J. Boyce says:

    Support Senate Bill 356 and House Bill 307

    Pass Senate Bill 356 and House Bill 307

    It is not about property rights. It is about returning home rule to local governments. It is a matter of public safety. Let your local governments do their job.
    In Florida, Home Rule language was proposed in the 1968 Constitutional revision, and was adopted by the people. After several legal challenges, the Legislature adopted the Home Rule Powers Act in 1973, which ended challenges related to city and county powers. The Florida Constitution states in Article VIII, Section 2(b) for municipalities:
    “Municipalities shall have governmental, corporate and proprietary powers to enable them to conduct municipal government, perform municipal functions and render municipal services, and may exercise power for municipal purposes except as otherwise provided by law.”
    These powers do not extend to fiscal Home Rule: the state reserves all taxing authority unto itself.
The most precious powers a city in Florida has are its Home Rule powers. The ability to establish its form of government through its charter, and to then enact ordinances, codes, plans and resolutions without prior state approval is a tremendous authority. To further be able to enforce them “at home” and to make necessary changes as a city grows is a great reflection of the trust that citizens have in their respective city leaders.
    Of course, city laws cannot conflict with state or federal laws. In the metropolitan Miami-Dade County government and in certain chartered county governments, some municipal ordinances and processes are subject to county review. However, for most of Florida’s 412 municipalities, Home Rule powers ensure that the cities are effectively and efficiently providing for the wishes of their citizens.
    Thank you Senator Thrasher and Representative Hutson for correcting a wrong. Pass senate bill 356 and house bill 307. The people have spoken.
    A special thank you to our local officials for going above and beyond to protect our communities in our county.

    Support Senate Bill 356. Give back home rule to local governments through out the State of Florida!

    First off a would like to thank Senator Thrasher and State Representative Travis Hutson for introducing their SB 356 and 307.

    The unintended consequences of Florida Statute 509.032 regarding public lodging establishments has led to serious problems that are adversely effecting the quality of life for the residents of my community and throughout the state of Florida. Amending the statute to return control to local government statewide will enable us to work to resolve these issues in a prudent and cooperative manner.

    1. Local authority has no ability to conduct fire safety inspection in Transient Public Lodging Establishments.

    2. Local authority has no ability to stop or enforce over crowing in these dwellings.

    3. Florida Statute 509.032 created a free pass to illegally alter rooms inside a home without filing proper permits. Local authorities are prevented from conducting complaint inspections of illegal alterations received from the public.

    4. Florida Statute 509.032 exempt sprinklers in newly constructed homes intended to be used as Transient Public Lodging Establishments. Local authority needs to apply proper fire safety codes for these dwellings. These are newly constructed dwellings being used by the public. This is a safety concern for residents staying in these dwellings.

    5. Commercial rentals are being establish in residential communities with ten to twelve bedrooms with occupancy over 25. On par with Hotels but without the additional safety features.

    6. Local authority needs to redefine Transient Public Lodging Establishments as occupancy code residential 1 transient. Florida Statute 509.032 failed to designate these dwellings properly. These dwellings are not single family homes (residential occupancy code 3). They are not being used for permeant occupancy. They are being used by multiple families on a transient basis. The occupancy classification for a licensed dwelling used for 30 days or less should be a Transient Public Lodging Establishments. They should not be treated as single family homes as they are open to the public on a daily basis. They should not be permitted with the same occupancy classification.

    7. Local authority needs to be able to establish annual fire safety inspections to protect the public and first responders. These dwelling are not following Florida Fire Prevention Code 69A-43. They are not being inspected since the passing of Florida House Bill 883 of 2011.

    8. Local authority needs the ability to require each Transient Public Lodging Establishment to register their dwellings. This way they can be managed properly for the safety of all. Florida Statue 509.032 took that ability away from local governments.

    Please support SB 356. This bill is important to protect the public. Let our local officials do their jobs and protect the public. Once again I would like to thank our senator and representatives.

    This issue is not about property rights. Bill 356 will correct a wrong. At the present time LLC’s and vacation management companies where given a free pass. An example of this abuse is a home in our community that was permitted as a four bedroom home but is being advertised by a rental company as an eight bedroom home. As it stands know the county has it’s hands tied an is unable to enforce any codes.

    Thank you for all your hard work,

    Ronald J. Boyce
    31 Ocean Oaks Lane
    Palm Coast, Florida 32137

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