Florida lawmakers filed a pair of bills that aim to eliminate local regulation of vacation rentals. The Senate version says renters have constitutional rights that would make it difficult for homeowner associations and towns to prevent short-term rentals.

The Florida Legislature passed a law in 2014 that gave local governments authority to moderately regulate vacation rentals. (Walton County doesn’t regulate rentals, and as a result, it only collects bed tax from owners who choose to report their rental income.)

The short-term rental industry doesn’t want controls because local government regulations and fines annoy people who want to make money through vacation rentals, regardless of the impact on their neighbors.

Sen. Greg Steube, a Bradenton Republican, with support from the Vacation Rental Management Association, filed Senate Bill 1400 in December. It would make vacation renters a special class of protected property owners immune from local regulation, with limited state regulation, and free rein in all residential neighborhoods.

Rep. Mike La Rosa, a St. Cloud Republican, filed 773 House Bill in December. His bill would have vacation rental properties regulated the same way as all residential properties.

Steube’s bill would put all vacation rental regulations and control in the hands of state government. County and city governments could not enact regulations concerning vacation rentals, and there’d be no regulatory requirements, such as the twice yearly inspections that apply to hotels and motels.

It also says vacation rentals “are residential in nature and thus, belong in residential neighborhoods.” This would eliminate the belief that vacation rentals change the character of residential neighborhoods. Yet the bill requires rentals of less than six months to be subject to the bed tax. Steube’s bill wants people to believe there are constitutional protections that are not in the Florida Constitution.

Art Miller, Miramar Beach