Many rentals available despite zoning laws

KEY WEST -- Many homes and condo units still remain available to Florida Keys travelers for short stays, according to a Florida Keys Tourist Development Council spokesman, who cited recent ordinances that prohibit vacation rentals of less than 28 days in unincorporated areas and for less than 30 days in Key West.

Those laws, backed largely by residential groups, have no impact on the region's hotels, motels, guesthouses or campgrounds, he said.

Unincorporated Monroe County's vacation rental ordinance covers the Key Largo, Marathon and Lower Keys regions and is defined largely by neighborhood zoning rules.

According to Chad Meadows, planner for Monroe County, estimates suggest that some 80% to 85% of neighborhoods are zoned "improved subdivision," where rentals must be at least 28 days.

The majority of the rest of Monroe County neighborhoods, Meadows said, are communities in which vacation rentals of less than 28 days are allowed with special permits.

Rentals of less than 28 days also are allowed in the following instances, he said:

  • Multifamily structures of more than two units with 24-hour on-site management.
  • Some dwelling units within controlled-access, gated communities.
  • Vacation rental uses lawfully established with all permits and licenses prior to the county's 1986 land development regulations.
  • Single-family and multifamily structures on offshore islands without connecting roads or bridges to the Keys Overseas Highway, where owner-managers maintain public lodging licenses issued before Jan. 1, 1996.
  • Key West's vacation rental ordinance, approved by the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) as required, is under legal review.

    That ordinance specifies that vacation rentals of less than 30 days are allowed with valid occupational licenses. Key West city attorney Robert Tischenkel noted that some 250 short-term rental homes and condominiums are available in Key West. Other incorporated areas of the Keys offer alternatives.

    In the Middle Keys, the city of Key Colony Beach has no minimum time limits on vacation rentals, according to Mayor John Sheldon. The city of Layton, on Long Key, requires 90-day-minimum stays in its vacation rentals.

    Jim Chisholm, Islamorada Village manager, said representatives of this newly incorporated area will consider vacation rentals in a comprehensive plan for the village.

    Meanwhile, Chisholm said, the village is exploring avenues to continue sanctioning short-term rentals in condominiums and gated communities until the new plan is instituted. Agents booking short-term rentals in accommodations other than hotels, motels or guest houses are advised to check with the properties or their representatives about minimum-stay laws.

    Florida Keys Tourist Development Council

    Phone: (800) 648-5510

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