Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Rental Legislation to Curb Local Authority Hits Snag

Photo by Steve Stefanides


Legislation winding its way through committee on both the House and Senate sides of the State Capitol may not have as easy a pathway as once believed.

Provisions which would have wrested control from local municipalities and counties within the state underwent a major change during last week’s hearings in Tallahassee before the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senate Bill 522, which was filed earlier in this session by Hialeah Senator Manny Diaz, Jr., would have stripped regulatory power such as registration and inspection of properties by local authorities and turn it over to the State of Florida.

Companies such as VRBO and Airbnb all favored the bill. Florida Realtors and even the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, which in the past had strenuously resisted similar measures, also appeared to be favoring the legislation.

However, due to an outcry from the Florida League of Cities, the Florida Association of Counties, and a growing ground swell of opposition from citizens, an amendment to the legislation was offered by Diaz last week in Tallahassee.

As part of this amendment, Diaz offered to remove the portion of the bill which would have stripped any additional power from local entities and placed it into the hands of state regulators. The bill would still require rental organizations to be responsible for such duties as collecting and forwarding taxes to the state, while ensuring rental properties are licensed.

The amendment offered by Diaz last week was welcomed by the Florida League of Cities. Some on both sides of the aisle feel more responsibility should be given back to local entities. Democratic Minority Leader Gary Farmer from Lighthouse Point commented as part of that the debate, “When you purchase a home in a single-family residential neighborhood, you have an expectation of solitude, peace and tranquility.”

Local legislative leaders Senator Kathleen Passidomo and Representative Bob Rommel saw no problem with the original bill as drafted by Diaz, but held on any final decisions regarding the legislation. Rommel had voted in favor of a similar bill when it came before his House Committee two weeks ago.

House Bill 219 as well as Senate Bill 522 both deserve watching, as the outcome could have an effect on local authority throughout Florida.



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