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On August 18, 2015, the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Commission adopted an ordinance regulating vacation rentals.
Prior to developing and adopting the ordinance the City lost its effort to prohibit single-family homes from being used as short-term vacation rentals. In 2010, the owner of a home used as a vacation rental appealed a code enforcement decision to the Florida Circuit Court after a special magistrate ruled that she had violated city codes by using her single family home as a short term rental.
On the appeal to the 17th Judicial Circuit, the Circuit Court Judge, Judge Dale Ross, ruled that the City had no ordinance regulating the rentals, and thus could not rely on the City’s Uniform Land Use Development Code’s Zoning District Requirements that typically prohibit commercial activity in residential areas.
Additionally, Section 509.032(7)(b) of the Florida Statutes prohibits the City from enacting any local law, ordinance or regulation which would ban vacation rentals or restrict the duration or frequency of vacation rentals. It would appear therefore that the City of Fort Lauderdale may not rely on its zoning laws to prohibit vacation rentals in a particular area where residential use is otherwise allowed.
Moreover, a local municipality may not enact a local law, ordinance, or regulation which would operate to prohibit vacation rentals. To the extent a zoning ordinance addresses vacation rentals in an attempt to prohibit them in a particular area where residences are otherwise allowed, it would appear that a local government would have exceeded the regulatory authority granted in section 509.032(7)(b), Florida Statutes.
However, Florida Statute Section 509.032(7) allows a local government to regulate vacation rentals. Thus, on August 18, 2015, the City of Fort Lauderdale adopted Ordinance Article X, Chapter 15 in order to mitigate the effects of short-term vacation rentals in an attempt to make them safer and, more compatible with existing neighborhoods.
Specifically, the Ordinance imposes standards to minimize the negative impacts caused by short-term vacation rentals, encourage short-term vacation rentals that are safe, increase property values, and achieve greater neighborhood compatibility. The Ordinance seeks to balance respect for private property rights and short-term vacation rentals and families/permanent single-family residences in established residential neighborhoods through the use of reasonable development and regulation standards.
In fact, the Ordinance requires vacation rental properties obtain certificates of compliance before permitting any person to occupy any residence as a vacation rental. The Ordinance requires that the owner provide the name, address, and phone number for a party, who shall be available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to address complaints and emergencies arising from the use of the property as a vacation rental. Additionally, the minimum requirements for the issuance of a certificate of compliance are.
- A completed registration application;
- Payment of a registration fee paid to the City of Fort Lauderdale;
- A City of Fort Lauderdale Business Tax Receipt;
- A Broward County Business Tax Receipt;
- A Florida Department of Revenue Certificate of Registration for purposes of collecting and remitting taxes, sales surtaxes, and transient rental taxes;
- A Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Transient Public Lodging Establishment License;
- An affidavit, demonstrating compliance with the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Vacation Rental Standards (set forth in Section 15-278), and all local, state, and federal laws, regulations and standards; and
- The Vacation Rental Lease Agreement that will be used to rent the vacation rental property.
The Ordinance went into effect November 1, 2015.