FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: Short-Term Rentals

Q: What is a Short-Term Rental (STR)?

A: A residential property (dwelling unit or accessory building) rented for more than three times a year for less than 30 days. Thus creating a “Hotel Next Door”. It is a commercial activity in Residential Neighborhoods.

 

Q: Why do we have this problem now?

A: Rental websites like Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) and AirBnB make it easy to advertise and rent these properties. Also, the number of properties used as short-term rentals in Florida has increased significantly (almost 36% over the last 12 months in TI).[1]

Q: What are the issues?

A: Excessive noise, Parking (more cars to get the renters to the property), Trash, no limit on the number of people allowed in the house.
Increased tourist traffic from STRs has the potential to slowly transform peaceful residential communities into “communities of transients” where people are less interested in investing in one another’s lives, be it in the form of informal friend groups or church, school and other community based organizations. STRs may not always know (or follow) local rules.


Lack of proper regulations or limited enforcement of existing ordinances may cause tension or hostility between STR landlords and their neighbors.


Cities lose out on tax revenue (Treasure Island Local Business Tax, ??%, and Pinellas County Tourist Development Tax, 6%) as most short-term landlords fail to remit those taxes even if it is required by law.

Q: Why can’t the city control this activity?

A: The current law removes land use and zoning tools used by the city to plan for future growth and levels of service (i.e., police, fire, rescue, roads, etc.). The city cannot regulate the duration of a renter’s stay, they could be weekly, daily or even hourly turnover. The city cannot “prohibit” this use and cannot exclude them from residential neighborhoods.

Q: What can YOU do about it?

A: Support your Treasure Island City Commission and the Florida League of Cities who OPPOSE legislation that preempts municipal authority (Zoning and Planning) to regulate short-term rental properties. Also, write letters or email your state legislators and the governor indicating you want Treasure Island to control these activities, not Tallahassee. There are currently 500 Airbnb’s in Treasure Island.  Airbnb’s are a big business; they employ over 12,000 people.  This not just about the money being spent by the renters but ALL about the STR revenue stream.  They, i.e., AirBnB, is to expend significant monies (>$250K) for lobbying and political support in upcoming elections. Remind your Florida representatives in Tallahassee they are representing you, not this special interest group.


Lastly, if you know of a STR in your neighborhood, report it to the TI Code Enforcement Division. 727 547-4575, ext. 232

If you do write to your state representatives, please update The Greater Treasure Island Club (TGTIC) and share with us the response you may have or have not received. Better yet, follow up with a phone call. We don’t know how many of you will decide to write a letter, but we encourage you to at least call your Florida representative, legislators and the governor.

Q: How is the Homestead Exemption impacted if my home is used as a STR rental?

A: There are several ways your exemption can be affected when you rent it, either via STR or Long-Term Rental (LTR):

  1. If you rent your home for more than 30 days over two consecutive years, you will lose your exemption.

  2. Also, if you rented your home on January 1st of any year, you will lose your exemption. Evidently the law requires you to be in residence at your home the first day of the year to qualify for the exemption for that year.

 

Q: Suppose I just rent out a room or rooms in my home?

A: Whatever the percentage of the square footage of the home, the room or rooms represent with produce a reduction of that percentage of your exemption. This is determined by the property appraiser’s office. They are notified of the rental use when the sales taxes are collected on the STR rent.

Q: If I suspect the owner of a property should not be receiving a homestead exemption due to rental use, what should I do?

A: You may report it anonymously on the Pinellas County Property Appraiser website (https://www.pcpao.org/).

 

Q: Does the STR (AirBnB/VRBO) liability insurance policy protect me?

A: The policy may protect you from any liability arising out of the rental use, your homeowner policy on the property will most likely not cover any losses incurred due to the rental use. In other words, if something happens at the property to cause the renter to sue, the STR policy should respond. However, if the renter does something that causes property damage to the home, the STR policy would not respond and neither would the homeowner policy.
 

A homeowner’s insurance policy is normally not going to cover a loss caused by rental use. Most homeowner policies for single family home are written on a HO-3 form, which assumes it is the owner’s primary residence. Rental properties are written on DP-1, 2 or 3 forms and are sometimes called landlord policies.


There are some insurance carriers that offer a rider that can be added to a HO-3 policy to cover an STR risk. Anyone using their home (or a room or rooms in their home) for STR should speak with their homeowner insurance agent to make sure that the risk is covered.

 

Q: Don’t the existing Zoning District Regulations prohibit STR to some extent, for example, the RU-75 district is classified as a Single Family Residential)?

A: Yes.

Q: Condos and HOAs are exempt currently from the legislation being proposed by the Florida Legislature on Short-Term Rentals. It appears to be focused primarily on the single and multi-family neighborhoods. Can a group of single-family residents create their own HOA, i.e., the "TI 4th Avenue HOA" and disallow STRs in their neighborhood's group of homes? The neighborhood group all agree they don't want STRs.

A: Waiting for an answer from Jennifer Cowan, our city attorney.

 

In conclusion, we ask that you become a member of TGTIC and attend future meetings to support this and other efforts we are involved in to make our city a better place to live. We are working in concert with and supporting the city commission in several areas.

[1] Aug/Sept 2019 issue of Paradise News, Pg. 10