Proposed bill could change rules governing vacation rentals

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- The vacation rental industry is one of the primary contributors to southwest Florida's economy, but a proposed bill allowing more local government control over those properties is raising concern on the Suncoast.

Florida house bill 307 would amend a current Florida statute that bans local governments from regulating vacation rentals. The bill would allow county and city officials to perform inspections, and train and test personnel, among other things. But it would NOT allow local governments to limit vacation rentals to a certain length of time. That concerns residents, who say weekly rates often bring in partiers.

"There's times during spring break that the properties adjacent to ours are quite noisy, pretty disruptive and not really great to have as neighbors," says Michael Ann Wells, a Siesta Key resident of four years.

Spring breakers understand the resident's side.

"I think they have a right to be upset because it's like disrupting their daily life," says visitor Kristen Brashear.

It's been a concern for many residents in Anna Maria and Venice as well. But condo rental complexes along Siesta Key say the weekly rates bring in the most customers, and that it would affect business if regulated like many residents would like.

"The big percentage is weekly rentals. Maybe 10 percent monthly, so I think it would really hurt the economy," says Lorie Olson of Sea Club II.

ABC 7 asked if they would be opposed to local government involvement.

"I think it would be detrimental to have the local government trying to overrule what the condominium association has already established," says Ken Brand, the General Manager Midnight Cove.

Sarasota County says they are grandfathered in under Florida statute 509, which already set regulations on the length vacation rentals can operate at, but the county is keeping a close eye on the proposed bill to see how it may affect the county.

For now, the bill is temporarily stalled in the House, where some lawmakers would like to see changes.