City Commission Moves Short Term Vacation Rental Registration Citywide

City Commission Has Taken a Strong Stand on the Uncontrolled Spread of Short-Term Vacation Rentals in Residential Neighborhoods, voting 4-1 to expand Chapter 34.5, previous applying only to the barrier islands, Citywide.

Public Input at the City Commission meeting demonstrated a misunderstanding by some at both the intent and the reach of the ordinance. 

City neighborhoods throughout the community started back in 2018 drawing attention to issues citywide.  The barrier island neighborhoods led by St Armands Residence Association (SARA) strongly supported by Lido Key Residents Association (LKRA) and Lido Shores Residents Association reached out to the City Commissioners with the concept that residential homes were being bought, demolished and replaced by mega room / mega bathroom structures, advertised as a short-term rental with concierge amenities. These soon were dubbed “Hotel Houses”.  The neighborhoods pointed out that these structures allowed a “non-permitted use of a residential structure” under the city’s existing Zoning Code and also violated the city’s existing “more than 7 days” minimum rental ordinance.  Also of concern is the new structures that were being built were being built without the required Building code standards for a short-term (transient) occupancy, thus placing a liability on both the property owner and perhaps the city.

Although the neighborhoods throughout the community had issues with these occupancies, the City Commission voted to only address the barrier islands. when they passed Chapter 34.5 back in 2021, and the remaining neighborhoods have been asked for relief since.  That relief came today, February 5, 2024, when the Commision voted 4-1 on the ordinance’s 2nd reading. 

The ordinance will require affected property owners to begin registration by July 1st, with being registered to operate starting on January 1, 2025.  City staff will be positioned to help answer any questions property owners have and work with those property owners to bring them into all of existing laws and ordinances at the State, County and City levels and how this new ordinance will benefit both the property owner and the residential neighborhood.

Myths – Answered:

  • If you are only renting out a room in a home you live in, you are not required to register under this ordinance.
  • If you rent out your home, seasonally (i.e. at least a one month minimum), you are not required to register under this ordinance.

Laws that are and have been in effect outside of this ordinance, for many years:

  • Anyone that rents out a room, a house or other type of living unit, for a period of 6 months or less is required to be licensed by the state of Florida and collect and pay the required sales tax.
  • Anyone that rents out a room, a house or other type of living unit must collect and pay the required “bed tax” to the County.
  • The minimum short-term rental for a residential structure in the City of Sarasota, under its long-standing zoning code provision is “more than 7 days”, which the City staff interprets as 7 full days and 7 full nights.

How will the city know if I am renting outside of these laws?  The city has a number of ways to monitor and enforce the laws.  A primary way is a very sophisticated AI system that monitors all advertisements, be they internet, social or print media.  There are also tips and or complaints from neighbors.

If a property owner wants to be exempt from this ordinance, they can change their business model and rent monthly or longer periods.  Also consider renting longer term to a local family including a single parent, or local worker needing attainable housing.

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