Monday, July 30, 2012

Judge rejected Fort Lauderdale's ban on short-term vacation-home rentals

Ft Launderdale, Florida told home owners that they could not rent their homes on a short term basis, but earlier this summer a Broward County Circuit Court Judge disagreed. The judge stated that the city was wrong because it had no ordinance that specifically regulated short term rentals.

"There have to be plain and unambiguous laws," said attorney Kara Cannizzaro. "You can't say people can't do something with their property without creating the law first."

Annerley Dal Bianco took the city to court in 2010 after a special magistrate ruled she had violated city codes by using her Harbour Inlet house as a short-term rental. Dal Bianco started renting on a short term basis because of the economy, and thought the city's decision was a violation of her property rights.

"There was a time you couldn't move anything. Nothing was renting, nothing was selling," she said. "I looked for alternative options. There is a very big demand for this."

"The ordinance does not address how a homeowner may use their home," Judge Dale Ross wrote. "Furthermore, the city has failed to cite to an ordinance preventing a homeowner from conducting short-term leasing of a single-family home." The city didn't even have a definition of what "short term" means.

The city can't move ahead to pass a new short term rental law because Florida state law makes short-term rentals legal and cities are not allowed to override that law.

Dal Bianco said home rentals offer tourists unique options when they visit the area.

"It's a perfectly reasonable use of the house to have family that just wants to be in a home and not in three separate hotel rooms," she said. "They want to barbecue. They don't want to eat out three meals a day."

The city plans to appeal the judge's decision.

Doug Coates

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