Lighthouse Point Seeks To Retain Its Authority To Regulate Vacation Rentals
By Marie Puleo, News Reporter
As the number of vacation rental properties in Lighthouse Point continues to increase, the City is trying to protect an ordinance that regulates them from being preempted by the state.
In April, the City Commission adopted a resolution opposing legislation in both the House and Senate that would eliminate municipal authority to regulate vacation rentals.
The resolution states that the legislation (Committee Substitute for House Bill 987 and Senate Bill 824) “expresses the Florida legislature’s preference of vacation rentals over traditional residential uses and promotes commercial interests over the interests of the voters and residents of the state.”
According to City records, there are currently 27 residential properties in Lighthouse Point that are being used as vacation rentals, and another 11 have applications pending. Nearly half of the properties are owned by companies, not residents.
Mayor Glenn Troast said he thinks the number of vacation rental properties is high for a “bedroom community” like Lighthouse Point, as opposed to a resort community. Under state law, the City cannot limit the number of vacation rentals.
“All we can do is regulate,” said Troast.
The City has experienced significant issues with vacation rentals, such as excessive noise, traffic, parking, trash and inadequate property maintenance.
The proposed House and Senate bills are the latest effort of the Florida Legislature to diminish the ability of local governments to regulate vacation rentals.
In 2011, state statute was amended to prohibit local governments from regulating vacation rentals, unless the local government already had specific regulations in place. The City didn’t have any specific regulations on vacation rentals at that time, and a court decision in 2012 found that municipalities could not regulate vacation rentals using general zoning regulations, such as classifying them as a commercial use in a residential district.
In 2014, state statute was amended again to provide that a local law, ordinance or regulation cannot prohibit vacation rentals or regulate the duration or frequency of the rental.
To be able to the address local issues relating to vacation rentals despite the legislative restrictions, the City enacted an ordinance in 2015 that created and implemented land development regulations to regulate transient rentals (rentals of six months or less), which would include vacation rentals, consistent with the authority of state law.
The ordinance has had positive impacts addressing the adverse effects vacation rentals can have on residential neighborhoods. The proposed legislation in Tallahassee would preempt this ordinance and essentially eliminate any ability of the City to regulate vacation rentals. It would give oversight to the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants.
The resolution passed by the City Commission says that through the proposed bills, the Florida Legislature is expressing that vacation rentals are just like any other residential use, and, in essence, is “choosing sides against Florida families that reside within their neighborhoods expecting that the government will not enact regulations to adversely affect their rights to quiet enjoyment, or prevent the enactment of regulations to preserve it.”
The idea is that a one-size-fits-all approach to regulating vacation rentals does not work, as issues are uniquely local in nature and different in every community.
The resolution was sent to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, every member of the state Legislature, the Florida League of Cities, the Broward County Commission, and other government entities.
When the Florida Legislature ended its 60-day session on May 3, the two bills were Indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
For more Lighthouse Point news and events information, you can go to our website and read our publication, Lighthouse Point magazine.