Vacation Home Rental Bill Heads to Governor after Senate Approval

Flagler County prevails in battle to reverse affects of 2011 legislative mistake. State Senator Thrasher and Assemblyman Hutson sponsored the new bill. Local politicians helped too.

Palm Coast, FL – May 1, 2014 – The Florida Senate gave final legislative approval to a bill allowing local government some ability to regulate  vacation home rentals and sent it to  Governor Scott for his signature today.

The issue behind the bill, redrafted by the State House and adopted by the State Senate, has been brewing in Flagler County and elsewhere throughout the state since the legislature passed a bill in 2011 removing local regulatory control of vacation home rentals. The result was a proliferation of large mini hotel like rentals popping up in areas that were designed as single family residential neighborhoods.   These mini-hotels are rented to four to six families at a time without the same rules or oversight as a typical hotel/motel.

The final bill struck the original Senate bill’s language that would have allowed local governments to set minimum rental periods, prohibit weekend-only rentals and limit the number of rental contracts per year. The final version was viewed as a compromise that would gain enough support to pass. It did. Now it's up to the Governor.

Although the issue was brought to the surface in Flagler County, many other cities and counties in the state wrestled with the problems stemming from the rentals such as garbage, parking, and party houses. After attempts to work with the owners of short term vacation home rentals, Flagler County’s state legislative delegation, Senator John Thrasher and Representative Travis Hutson, filed twin bills this year, one in the State Senate and one in the House to allow local governments to have some regulatory powers to deal with the problems.

The Flagler County Commission expressed its support of the issue and sent Commissioners Frank Meeker and Charles Ericksen Jr. along with County Attorney Al Hadeed to assist in the effort to get the bill approved in the State Legislature.

“For a county of 100,000 to lead a fight like this, working collaboratively with our legislative delegation, lobbyist and so many other cities and counties is a testament to the type of team put together  to tackle the issue,” Flagler County Commissioner  Frank Meeker said. “It took the strong support of our legislators, Senator John Thrasher and Representative Travis Hutson to get this legislation passed.”

“This was a hard fought battle to return home rule to local government to be able to institute common sense regulations on short term vacation home rentals and preserve residential communities,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said.  “We had a lot of help starting with a unified County Commission and our legislative delegation, lobbyist and our community. In addition counties and cities across the State joined in this effort.”

“So many people rallied in defense of their single family neighborhoods,” County Attorney Al Hadeed said. “as Representative Hutson has said more than once, issues like this need to be decided at home and not in Tallahassee.”  

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