Communities and local municipalities appear to be losing the battle in Tallahassee against the powerful lobbying efforts of the home sharing companies over the power to control transient rentals in residential neighborhoods.

The Florida Legislature in 2011 passed Fla. Stat. §509.032(7)(b) restricting any city or county from prohibiting, or regulating the duration or frequency of short-term rentals, beyond any ordinances or zoning regulations already on the books before adoption of the law. That law was amended in 2014 to allow for some limited regulation of short-term rentals, such as noise, parking and a registration process. However, the duration of the rental, or how frequently the homeowner could rent out the property, remains off limits.

In recent legislative sessions, the lobby interests of the home sharing economy sought to eliminate the local ordinances and zoning regulations of local governments that were grandfathered under the 2011 law. They have also pushed legislation that would limit homeowner associations’ ability to prohibit or regulate short term rentals. Those efforts will surely continue in 2019.

In the interim, Florida counties and cities fall into two categories: those fortunate enough to have had an ordinance in place prior to 2011 (e.g., Orange County, Satellite Beach, Indialantic), and those without specific regulations in place (e.g., Seminole County, Indian Harbour Beach, Melbourne Beach), and, therefore, have little authority over short-term rentals.

Below is a look at some of the ordinances being considered or recently adopted by local governments in Central Florida:

City of Orlando Ordinance

The City of Orlando’s ordinance will allow short-term rental of individual bedrooms, garage apartments, or other accessory structure. The resident must pay an annual fee of $275 for the first year and either $100 and $125 for each year afterward.

However, only one booking can occur at a time and the resident living in the residence must be present when hosting the short-term renter.  Additionally, the rental portion of the residence must be designated as an accessory use space, and the rental space must be 50 percent or less of the whole property.  For example, only one bedroom in a three-bedroom house or two bedrooms in a four-bedroom house may be listed. 

Fines may be issued by code enforcement if a resident:

  • Rents out an entire unit or property
  • Fails to include Home Sharing Registration proof with any online advertising
  • Fails to include in the online advertising the requirements of this ordinance (i.e. one bedroom in a three-bedroom house available for home sharing)

Seminole County Ordinance

Seminole County commissioners recently delayed a vote on a proposed short-term rental ordinance. Under Seminole’s proposed ordinance, residents renting their residence for less than a month must obtain a “certificate of compliance” from the county at a one-time charge of $150.

The following restrictions would apply:

  • No more than two people per bedroom
  • No more than four children under thirteen years of age
  • Visitors may not exceed double than the number of people renting the residence
  • Residence must have enough parking spaces on the property for at least two cars, plus an additional parking space for every bedroom beyond two
  • Loud noises prohibited from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
  • Guests could may park on sidewalks, bike paths or trails
  • Short-term vacation rentals must be registered with the state Department of Revenue and collect Seminole’s 5-percent tourist development tax

City of Indian Harbour Beach

The Indian Harbour Beach City Council is also considering an ordinance to identify and regulate short-term rentals. The ordinance will be considered at the regular city council meeting Jan. 9.

The proposed ordinance provides:

  • Residents must register their residences with the City to engage in short term rentals
  • Residence subject to inspections to ensure compliance with Building Code
  • Resident or their agent must be available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to respond to complaints
  • Resident must screen tenants and comply with sex offender registries
  • A land-line telephone is required to each home to aid with 911 calls
  • Must post rules inside the homes such as no parking on the grass and no pool parties at 2 a.m.
  • Comply with occupancy and parking laws
  • Must collect and pay bed taxes to the county

Other Local Governments

Orange County commissioners are monitoring how Orlando fares with its ordinance before taking one up county wide.

Lake County does not have regulations on short-term rentals.

Satellite Beach is considering a referendum question on the November ballot on short-term rentals. They currently allow short-term rentals of over 30 days on the east side of SR A1A.

Indialantic allows short-term rentals in its tourist district on the east side of SR A1A. They are prohibited on the west side of A1A.

Melbourne Beach allows short-term rentals, but only in its multi-family districts.

New Smyrna Beach allows short-term rentals, but only in certain areas.

Ormand Beach prohibits short-term rentals.

Homeowner Associations Need to Act Now

As evidenced above, the trend in local laws is the regulation of short-term rentals – not their out-right-prohibition. Homeowner associations wanting to keep short-term rentals will have to rely on their covenants and restrictions. However, with Florida courts recently ruling community associations cannot rely on non-commercial use restrictions to prohibit short-term rentals, and the continued lobbying efforts of the home sharing companies to pre-empt homeowner associations from prohibiting short term rentals, the time to act is now. If you wait – after the next legislative session in Tallahassee – your community may find itself just as hamstrung as local governments in their efforts to restrict short term rentals.