PHOTO: An expansive view of Miami, Florida. (photo via Flickr/Matthew Hurst)
The debate over whether vacation rentals are homes or businesses is heating up in one of the world's top tourist destinations.
The Miami Herald reports that the Florida House of Representatives' Careers & Competition Subcommittee voted 9-6 to pass a polarizing bill. If ultimately signed into law, it would prevent local governments in cities and counties from passing legislation restricting the vacation rentals of private homes.
The bill, known as HB 425 and sponsored by Rep. Mike LaRosa, now heads to the Florida House Commerce Committee for another vote.
Austin, Texas-based vacation rental marketplace HomeAway is one of the supporters of HB 425, along with the Florida Association of Realtors, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity.
The Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association is among the many groups situated on the other side in opposition to the bill.
While LaRosa told the Herald "this industry has been under attack" and alleges "individuals' private property rights have been violated" as a result, assistant city attorney for Miami Kerri McNulty tells the publication that opponents view the bill as "an attack on home rule."
"We are being inundated with calls from our residential neighborhoods who are complaining about these short-term rentals which are essentially businesses...We need to be able to regulate them," argues McNulty.
READ MORE: How to Minimize Insurance Risk While Traveling in the Sharing Economy
The cities and counties in opposition to HB 425 argue that quality of life is at stake, with issues like loud parties and parking problems popping up as a result of unregulated vacation rentals.
After the Commerce Committee, the House floor would be the next step for HB 425. But getting the bill over the next hurdle could prove challenging with many powerful committee members representing regions of the state where the opposition is most fierce.
Ordinances in effect on June 1, 2011, could still be applied, but any restrictions signed into law after that date would be deemed unenforceable.
Last May, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) released a study conducted by Penn State University's School of Hospitality Management. It found more than 60 percent of home-sharing platform Airbnb's revenue in Miami was coming from hosts listing multiple units. More than 75 percent of the company's revenue in Miami was coming from hosts who listed properties for rent for more than half of the year.