Vacation rentals have long been a part of the fabric of enjoying the Sunshine State, and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association believes that all forms of lodging play an important role in providing Florida’s visitors a place to stay. Each year, Florida’s tourism numbers rise as more and more people choose to visit our incredible state, and we are proud to provide them with a wide array of lodging options.
So what’s the problem with short-term vacation rentals?
Traditional vacation rentals have provided countless families the opportunity to enjoy Florida with the comforts and conveniences of home. However, the advent of online hosting platforms has dramatically changed the landscape of vacation rentals. Hosting platforms have significantly expanded the searchability and availability of vacation rentals. These hosting platforms have also caused an increase in the use of traditionally residential homes as vacation rentals. Intended to connect renters and owners, the platforms may in fact facilitate large commercial operations that look and function exactly like hotels but evade important safety and sanitation requirements. The hospitality industry owes it to our guests to ensure that all are safe and protected, regardless of their chosen type of lodging. To do that, we must address the issues with the current vacation rental landscape.
Municipalities across the nation are grappling with these issues, working to regulate hosting platforms for a variety of reasons including collecting proper taxes, ensuring the safety and privacy of guests and, and protecting homeowners who find themselves living next door to a vacation rental in a neighborhood whose zoning regulations are strictly residential. This issue is complex, and it can be difficult to strike a good balance between respecting the individual rights of property owners and protecting visitors and neighboring residents.
How do we move forward?
I believe the solutions are simple and fair, and FRLA and our Government Affairs team are working towards achieving the needed change by sitting down with regulatory agencies, our lodging members, and representatives from hosting platforms. We’re asking that all vacation rentals be licensed with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and that hosting platforms require that license number for an owner to post a listing. We also feel that the required taxes should be collected from all lodging establishments, and that transparency and audit requirements apply equally to all.
There is a place at the table for all of types of lodging. Having many different types of lodging available to visitors makes Florida more open and accessible to all visitors. But we need to update our regulations to ensure that we not provide special treatment to any one type of lodging. Most importantly, we want to continue to make sure that we are providing a quality visitation experience to all of Florida’s guests, no matter where they choose to stay.
This op-ed was originally published in Today’s Hotelier in March 2019.