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On August 18, 2015, the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Commission adopted Ordinance Article X, Chapter 15 (the “Ordinance”) in order to mitigate the effects of short-term vacation rentals in an attempt to make them safer and more compatible with existing neighborhoods. The new ordinance became effective on November 1, 2015. It allows vacation rental home owners to apply for a “Certificate of Compliance” from the City Manager’s Office for the purposes of offering rental services within the City of Fort Lauderdale’s residentially zoned areas.
The Ordinance defines “Vacation Rentals” as:
Any unit or group of units in a condominium or cooperative or any individually or collectively owned single family, two family, three family, or four family house or dwelling unit that is rented to Transient Occupants more than three times in a calendar year for periods of less than thirty days or one calendar month, whichever is less, or which is advertised or held out to the public as a place regularly rented to Transient Occupants, but that is not a timeshare project.
In other words, if a single family home located in a residential community is advertised as available for vacationers to stay in for periods of less than one month, those homes are subject to the Ordinance.
The Application for the Certificate of Compliance requires that the applicant identify the name, address, and emergency contact information for a designated responsible party who shall be available within 25 miles of the vacation rental property, twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. The responsible party is required to:
- Inform all guests of the applicable City of Fort Lauderdale Ordinances (noise, parking, garbage);
- Maintain the property in compliance with the Florida Building Code and City Ordinance occupancy limits;
- Ensure that the provisions of the Ordinance are complied with;
- Be available to respond to and address problems with the rental property at all times;
- Keep a register of all guests; and
- Maintain the property free of garbage and litter.
These rules provide a reasonable means for the citizens of the City of Fort Lauderdale to mitigate the impacts created by the transitory uses of residential property. Further, the application requires that the owner acknowledge that:
- Vehicles must be parked within the property;
- It is unlawful to make noise or create sounds that exceed the minimums set forth in the City’s Noise Control Ordinance;
- He or she shall comply with all applicable city, county, federal laws, rules, regulations, ordinances, and statutes; and
- No solid waste containers shall be located at the curb on days other than days designated for garbage pick-up.
Moreover, Owners of vacation rentals must register with the Florida Department of Revenue and Broward County for the payment of taxes. Specifically, Florida imposes a sales tax, collected by the Department of Revenue, on rental charges paid for the right to use or occupy living accommodations. In addition, Broward County imposes a Tourist Development Tax, which is sometimes referred to as the resort tax, bed tax, or transient tourist tax. The Broward County Tourist Development Tax rate is five percent. Likewise, owners are required to obtain licenses from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Additionally, the City of Fort Lauderdale imposes a fee for the registration of the vacation rental to compensate for the City’s administrative expenses. The City’s Vacation Rental Registration Fee is $750.00.
When the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Commission approved the Ordinance, the provisions of the Ordinance were to be enforced by Chapter 11, Code Enforcement, of the Code of Ordinances. The enforcement program was primarily focused on compliance, including a penalty of a seven days suspension upon the third adjudication of violation. On October 6, 2015, the Commission voted to amend the sections of the Ordinance governing enforcement. The amendment will result in a more streamlined enforcement mechanism.
- Kristy E. Armada is a land use attorney at the Florida law firm of Olive Judd, P.A. Ms. Armada represents clients in a broad range of land use matters including site plan approvals, code enforcement matters, permitting, and examination of current and future entitlement rights.