Rental Bill being debated

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Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014 6:46 pm

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- So far, it's a win for vacation rental owners. Wednesday, the Florida House passed a bill which gives local governments some control involving short term rental homes, but not to the extent some were looking for.

TJ Mullins lives next door to a rental home. "We see college kids left and right…drunk until three in the morning."

He says it's ruined the quality of life in their Siesta Key area. "This is a single family neighborhood, this isn't a resort. I didn't buy this house to live next to a resort."

TJ says the house is rented weekly, and with few exceptions, it should not be for less than a month. "One month minimum is generally excepted throughout the area."

Helene MacDonald owns Horse and Chase Rentals in Venice. She says it's a balancing act because those who own rental properties also have rights. "One of the rights of owning a property is being able to rent it. It doesn't say weekly, daily, monthly; it's one of their rights. Part of their rights have been taken away."

That has changed over the years. Being voted on this week is a Senate rental oversight bill. It now says local governments may not prohibit vacation rentals or regulate duration or frequency with some exceptions.

It would allow for some inspections and trash rules. But get this -- unincorporated Sarasota County and the City of Venice have had rules in place before 2011, so they are grandfathered in. We are told a one month minimum in most neighborhoods here would stay in place no matter what.

Helene says it's probably for the best. "I am okay with that restriction. I want to know who is next door to me for a month, two months, three months. I don't want people in and out not knowing who they are."

Places like Anna Maria and Holmes Beach could be impacted by whatever changes are voted on. Rules or not, for some, getting owners to comply is already hard enough. "It's the neighbors who have to deal with who they are renting to. It's a nightmare."

Most condo and homeowners associations already have rules which limit how often you can rent them out. Those of course will always apply.

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