PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - It’s a battle pitting neighbors against neighbors. State leaders are debating a big change to vacation rentals. The law would open the doors for more homeowners to rent their properties short term.
It worries homeowners like Ruth Davies who lives near a home that’s rented out daily, weekly or monthly.
“It makes me a little uncomfortable not knowing who’s in my backyard,” she explained. She’s had trouble with renters making lots of noise and using drugs. “If you have 25 people staying in a house next to you, you know it’s party time.”
Recently signs have popped up in front yards around Pinellas County stating “no illegal hotels.” Some people not happy that they’re neighbors are listing their homes for rent for just a night or two at a time.
Yet, if state leaders have their way, there could be even more turnover in neighborhoods like Redington Beach, Indian Shores, Indian Rocks Beach, Clearwater, Treasure Island, St Pete Beach, Belleaire Beach and communities across Florida.
Two bills proposed right now in Tallahassee would rule in favor of homeowners like John Anderson. He just bought a sprawling 5-bedroom, 5-bathroom house on the beach in Indian Shores and plans to rent the home out as much as possible.
“I can’t understand why anybody would keep you from renting your own property. It’s ridiculous,” he explained.
Anderson says it’s a way to pay his mortgage. “When you build your own house, it’s subject to only your own rules. Not someone else coming in and telling you what you can do with your property. We’ve had enough of that, as far as I’m concerned.”
The law would also keep local cities from making rules against vacation rentals, like how long visitors can stay. That leaves leaders in Tallahassee in charge of what’s happening— just outside your front door.
Local governments aren’t happy about the proposed laws. The House advanced a bill this week that would take away their home rule.
It takes the rules back to those set in 2011, when the state first preempted local control over vacation rentals. Local governments pushed back and in 2014 the Legislature partly rolled back the law, giving them more say locally over vacation rentals.
State leaders supporting the bill say cities across Florida have created too many rules restricting vacation rentals and that is infringing on homeowner’s rights.