It’s a common growing pain of technology. The internet often brings change faster than local governments can respond.
Mount Dora could consider following the path of other Florida cities, as they try to keep up with the challenges, opportunities and loopholes presented by short-term vacation rentals. Companies like VRBO and Airbnb provide easy Internet-based platforms for property owners to offer short-term vacation rentals. The units can range from single rooms and guest cottages to entire homes.
Short-term or transient vacation rentals are often defined as those rented to guests more than three times a year or for periods under 30 days. Mount Dora reportedly has two hundred such rentals, of which only 25 are licensed in compliance with state law. The city currently has no ordinances pertaining to these rentals, according to Vince Sandersfeld, Mount Dora's interim planning director.
Almost a decade ago, Mount Dora passed an ordinance regulating the operation of bed and breakfasts in an effort to preserve the character, safety and quality of life in residential neighborhoods. Unlike the city’s hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts, the short-term rentals currently bypass city taxes, safety and health inspections, as well as parking and event regulations.
Marathon, Hollywood, Miami, Surfside and Fort Lauderdale and other Florida cities have sought to mitigate the effects of short-term vacation rentals in their communities. Many have developed new ordinances in an attempt to make them safer, accountable and more compatible with existing neighborhoods.
The issue was discussed at a Mount Dora City Council work session and it’s tentatively scheduled to be addressed again at the January 2 regular city council meeting.
UPDATE: JANUARY 2, 2017 In 2009, prior to the popularity of AirBnB and other internet-based rental platforms, the Florida Legislature preempted cities from adopting certain restrictive ordinances regulating short term rentals. At the January 2 meeting, Mount Dora's city attorney advised the city council this limits the option of an ordinance. The council now plans to join other Florida cities in adopting a resolution to send to state lawmakers about their concerns.