Seminole County considers regulating vacation rentals like Airbnb

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County leaders delayed a vote that would potentially put regulations on homeowners who use part of their property for sites, including Airbnb.

If the new ordinance gets approved as it stands right now, homeowners would need to register their home as a vacation rental, and require them to pay $150. Because of relatively recent state laws, counties cannot prevent these type of vacation rentals or limit how often or how long people stay.

Just last year, Airbnb says more than 11,000 people stayed in Seminole County, using more than 300 different homes. Seminole County leaders admit that other parts of Central Florida utilize these types vacation rentals. In 2017, Orange County had 235,000 guests while Osceola had 358,400.

“We can regulate noise, we can register them, make sure we know who they are, where they are so they pay this tourism tax,” Seminole County Commission Chairman John Horan said.

George Sellery, who represents the Lake Forest homeowner’s association, isn’t against people renting out their homes, but admits there need to be safeguards in place.

“Make it something that works well for someone who wants to be vacation rentals and also those who want to be protected in their natural community so there’s no abuses,” he said.

Steve Christensen has been renting out rooms in his unincorporated Seminole County home off and on for about six years through Airbnb.

“Nice extra income and it’s sure expanded our Facebook friends,” Christensen said. “We have a lot of people who come here and make friends and they’re lifelong friends so far.”

No date has been set for a vote on this ordinance.

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