Vacation Rental News & Info Regarding COVID-19

Discussion in 'All About SoWal' started by RL41, Apr 4, 2020.

  1. BeachKrab

    BeachKrab Beach Comber

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    Not quite following your post... so it’s good to go on vacation as long as it isn’t here? IMHO as soon as the state and country deem it ok to resume travel I would think we would welcome our visitors.
     
  2. jodiFL

    jodiFL Beach Fanatic

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    Some would rather NOT have millions of people here.
     
  3. Jim Tucker

    Jim Tucker Beach Fanatic

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    Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson spent part of Monday in the State Attorney’s office discussing prosecution of violations of the statewide ban on short-term vacation rentals.

    The meeting came after a weekend in which Walton County deputies investigated citizen complaints about more than a dozen apparent violations of the ban, instituted statewide in March by Gov. Ron DeSantis to limit travel to Florida to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

    The ban on short-term vacation rentals, initially instituted in March, was left in place in the governor’s latest executive order regarding COVID-19, which became effective Monday. That executive order allows for the partial reopening of restaurants and retail stores. The short-term vacation rental ban does not cover hotels, inns or resorts, but does cover condominiums.

    Since the ban has been in place, the Sheriff’s Office has evicted “several” parties who were in violation, Adkinson said Monday. Those violators face possible second-degree misdemeanor charges, which carry a penalty of up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

    A Sheriff’s Office report on one of those evictions, an April 18 incident involving 15 people from New York staying in a home a few blocks off County Road 30A in Santa Rosa Beach, provided some indication of the difficulties in dealing with alleged vacation rental violations.

    A deputy went to the home, and when he and an accompanying sergeant asked for identification for people in the home, they were asked by one of the renters, “Are you guys going to make some sh-- up?”

    Adkinson added Monday that owners of short-term vacation rental properties can face far more serious charges than renters.

    “Some of these people, we’re talking about tax fraud,” said Adkinson, in terms of not reporting or paying taxes on rental income received during the ban.

    “There will be warrants issued for arrest,” Adkinson said.

    As a practical matter, the sheriff added, his office won’t necessarily pursue illicit out-of-state renters. But, he said, even a misdemeanor warrant can create problems for its recipient.

    As an example, Adkinson pointed to a Canadian resident recently evicted from a vacation rental. “Good luck getting back across the border with an outstanding warrant,” he said Monday.

    Adkinson provided the public with two non-emergency office telephone numbers — (850) 892-8186 and (850) 892-1111 — to call to report potential violations of the short-term vacation rental ban.

    For illicit renters, the sheriff said, “this boils down to (a mindset of) ‘I’m more important than the people who live here.’”

    The story is somewhat the same in nearby Destin, just across the county line in Okaloosa County. There, city officials are working through about 30 complaints of potential violations of the rental ban, said Catherine Card, the city’s public information manager.

    Reports are being forwarded to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation for enforcement action, Card said. As in Walton County, the larger local rental companies aren’t a problem, according to Card. Rather, the problem is with third-party renters like Vrbo, an online rental service.
     
  4. RL41

    RL41 Beach Comber

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    Rosemary Beach website is taking bookings for next week or earlier and offers no mention of the vacation rental ban. Sheriff might want to take a look at that.
     
  5. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    Yesterday, the Walton County Board of County Commissioners voted to send a letter to the Florida Governor asking that he rescind the ban on short-term vacation rentals.
     
  6. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    Tourist Development Tax collection showed a 41.48 percent decrease in South Walton for March 2020 compared with the previous year. Travel impacts from COVID-19 began to be felt mid-March, significantly impacting these results. It is anticipated that the impacts will be further felt for April’s numbers, and continuing as long as COVID-19 continues to impact people’s ability to travel.

    The Tourist Development Tax, or bed tax, is a five percent tax collected on hotels, condos and other short term rentals. It is the best way to gauge visitation and demand trends in South Walton. The revenue supports tourism marketing and beach operations including cleaning and maintaining beaches, lifeguards, destination improvements and preservation initiatives.
     
  7. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    Destin and PCB have also written governor with same request.
     
  8. Petermoh

    Petermoh Beach Comber

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    What is the enforcement mechanism for collecting the bed tax? It is a short jump from folks violating the rental ban to speculating that they probably don't pay the bed tax as well.
     
  9. jodiFL

    jodiFL Beach Fanatic

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    I would be willing to bet that when the sheriff has to go to a residence concerning a illegal rental that they would take the owners information down then forward that to either the state or the TDC. I would like to know how far back they would audit for it because he said something about them being charged with tax fraud if it was found they were not submitting the bed tax. But by submitting said tax it would prove they were breaking the rental ban. Quite the problem for the homeowner IMO.
     
  10. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    Ltr to Gov DeSantis Short Term Rentals.png
    Ltr to Gov DeSantis Short Term Rentals(1).png
     
  11. Petermoh

    Petermoh Beach Comber

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    The sheriff has a full plate already without having to do this type of police work? If this is really police work.
     
  12. leeboy

    leeboy Beach Lover

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    Okaloosa submits “Short-Term Vacation Rental Safety Plan” to state for approval

    Okaloosa County then continued to work over the weekend to submit a plan to the state.

    After coordinating individually with commissioners, County Administrator John Hofstad made the decision to proceed with submitting a plan to the Governor for approval today

    “The plan is largely consistent with similar plans created in Walton and Santa Rosa counties and meets the guidelines provided by DBPR late yesterday,” wrote Commissioner Boyles in an email. “The plan prohibits renting to visitors from several states (including Louisiana) unless the stay length exceeds the 14-day self quarantine requirement currently in place by the Governor.”

    The county will now await for approval of the plan from the state, however, the TDC will still meet on Monday to review the plan and can still suggest adjustments.

    “The Commission will meet on Tuesday and presumably ratify the decision to submit the request and the plan and direct any adjustments to the plan if needed,” said Boyles.

    According to Okaloosa County, the plan still has to be voted on by the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday. There is no timeline yet how how fast the state will approve the plans submitted from any county.
     
  13. culdeus

    culdeus Beach Comber

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  14. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    Walton County is working on an actual plan to submit.
     
  15. culdeus

    culdeus Beach Comber

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    I think honestly, the plea is better than a plan.

    Seems really wasteful to solicit 20-30 different plans and sit in judgement of them, why can't the state dictate the terms of rentals?
     
  16. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    On Friday, May 15th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-123 which instituted Florida's Full Phase 1 reopening.

    As part of this executive order, DeSantis provided an option for Counties to seek approval to operate vacation rentals from Department of Business and Professional Regulation by submitting a written request from the County Administrator and the county's safety plan for vacation rental operations.

    Information for submission was posted on the DBPR website to provide guidance for counties seeking to submit for approval. (Guidance on Vacation Rentals from DBPR )

    Following the announcement, County Administrator Larry Jones and Tourist Development Council Executive Director Jay Tusa began working on the submission. The submission was sent to DBPR on Friday evening.

    At this time, the submission has been received by DBPR and Walton County is awaiting their decision.
     
  17. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

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    I think what most people are asking for is what they sent.
     
  18. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    I haven't seen Walton County's plan posted yet.

    Attached are Escambia and Okaloosa plans.
     

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  19. culdeus

    culdeus Beach Comber

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    Escambia has a more concrete criteria for caseload. It's funny how they drew the line in the sand right about at where Louisiana is today.
     
  20. justhavinfun

    justhavinfun Beach Fanatic

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    This is nothing but fluff but at the end of the day it will not matter - Who will be able to afford a vacation when we have an employment rate that is sky high? I agree Escambia county certainly has more meat and potatoes with regard to it's package but it looks like a cut and paste from other CDC packages..
     

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