As the battle between state vs local government control over vacation rental properties is reignited in Tallahassee, Palm Coast again finds itself in the crosshairs.
PALM COAST, FL – April 2, 2019 – As the battle between state vs local control over vacation rental properties is reignited in Tallahassee, Palm Coast again finds itself in the crosshairs.
Property management company Rented.com’s annual report on “The 150 Best Places to Buy a Vacation Rental Property in 2019” (as measured by return on investment) places Palm Coast #5 on the list. Five other Florida cities in the top 25 are Panama City Beach (#3), Jacksonville (#12), Navarre (#15), Kissimmee (#19), and Cape San Blas (#20). This is the company’s fourth annual report.
The report was given added credibility when it was highlighted by Forbes Magazine. The resulting notoriety will likely spur additional investment activity in the top-ranked locations. Florida led all states with 19 destinations on the list of 150. California, with 13, was second, but no California city ranked higher than #44.
The report coincides with a renewed effort in Tallahassee to again preempt local control over vacation rentals. The battle began in 2011 when Florida first preempted control from local jurisdictions. The resulting backlash, the epicenter of which was the Hammock in Flagler County, resulted in a partial return of local control in 2014. Local governments can now control occupancy levels, but not the frequency or duration of rental terms. They can also impose registration, regulations, and inspections.
House bill HB 987, sponsored by Tampa Representative Jamie Grant, has passed both the House Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Committees with only one more committee vote needed to reach the floor of the Assembly. In its current form, the bill stipulates, “Vacation rentals are residential in nature, residential in use, and allowed in residential neighborhoods.”
Further, it prohibits local governments from enacting any ordinances or regulations that do not apply equally to residential homes or long-term rentals. Further, it prevents local governments from controlling occupancy levels or the length and/or frequency of rentals.
The 2011 preemption bill grandfathered local ordinances controlling vacation rentals that were in place before the 2011 legislation. The new bill would eliminate such grandfathering. Oversight will be assigned to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
A similar bill, S812, has been introduced in the Senate but has yet to be referred to committee.
The impending legislation is certain to rile the increasingly strident voices of Hammock residents, fresh from their victory over a proposed Beachwalk development at Jungle Hut Road and their impact on the county’s deliberation of the lease options for Captain’s BBQ at Bings Landing. On the opposite side of the issue will be both investors and, yes, speculators attracted to the growing vacation rental business and encouraged by Palm Coast’s high ranking in the Rented.com study.
Ride-sharing services stirred up an initial firestorm of opposition from entrenched stakeholders but gradually wove their way into the fabric of our society. So too will short term vacation rentals, or as the industry trade members have begun calling the phenomena, “alternative accommodations space.” It’s only a matter of time.