In the final weeks of the 2018 Legislative Session, immense tragedy struck a quiet community right here in our state. Our elected officials rightfully focused their remaining time and energy on ensuring school safety and addressing mental health issues in the wake of the Parkland school shooting.
While legislators appropriately turned their attention to addressing these priorities, their bandwidth to tackle other issues was understandably reduced. Though legislation to create statewide standards for vacation rentals did pass committees in both the Florida House and Senate, ultimately time ran out and Senate Bill 1400 and House Bill 773 did not make it across the finish line this session.
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Some special interests are promoting this as a win — I challenge that narrative. Continuing to trample the private property rights of Floridians seems, to me, like anything but a victory.
The truth is, it is far too early for anyone to declare success just yet — we are only in the midst of this discussion. As president, I personally guarantee the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association (FL VRMA) will continue to bring forth education and a fierce determination to fight for the rights of property owners across the state of Florida.
I assure you this fight is far from over.
This year’s legislative session was, in reality, filled with small victories that added up to big gains for our cause. With each public discussion, the tide seems to be turning, we find we have more support than some may have expected, and important issues and hypocrisies are being brought to light.
These successes would not have been possible without the relentless work of Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, and Rep. Mike La Rosa. We are so grateful for their faithfulness and continued determination to bring this matter to the forefront and promote bills that defend and protect the basic right of every Floridian to own and use their property to prosper.
I am confident we are getting close to our goal of reasonable vacation rental rules that are immune to the whims of unfriendly local ordinances. FL VRMA is working diligently with our partners and allies, including Airbnb and HomeAway, to ensure elected officials are educated and private property rights are protected, and we will continue to do so.
Property ownership is the American dream and should not be shattered by unfriendly local representatives and arbitrary barriers that make vacation rentals difficult or in some cases impossible.
Jennifer Frankenstein-Harris is president of the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association. Email: Jennifer@GreatOceanCondos.com