Orange, Volusia vacation rentals receive OK to restart from state officials

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation approves plans

Since 1979, anyone who has stayed at a hotel or vacation rental in Orange County has paid the Tourist Development Tax (TDT). (WKMG)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange and Volusia counties received the green light from Florida’s business regulation agency Friday to begin allowing vacation rentals again during the coronavirus pandemic.

Orange County Administrator Byron Brooks sent a letter Thursday to Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears, outlining the county’s plan to reopen vacation rentals.

Under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order, counties must seek approval from the DBPR to allow vacation rentals to begin operations again.

According to the DBPR website, Volusia County’s rental plan was also approved Friday.

Plans submitted by Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Osceola and Sumter counties have also all been approved by the DBPR.

On Friday, Beshears wrote back to Orange County approving the operation of vacation rentals.

Under Orange County’s plan to reopen vacation rentals, vacation rentals will need to follow a set of guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Those guidelines include the adequate time between guest stays to allow for cleaning and sanitation and providing soap and surface sanitation supplies to guests.

Rental companies will also need to ensure adequate safety protocols are in place and publicly displayed, in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, regarding shared amenities such as pools, gyms and other communal spaces.

Vacation rentals will not be used for events or group gatherings that exceed the maximum occupancy of the rental property and only guests whose names are on the reservation will be authorized to stay on site.

“Any guest having events or group gatherings in the home or exceeding the numbers of authorized guests will be immediately evicted without refund,” according to the county’s plan.

Reservation will be limited to residents from U.S. states with a COVID-19 case rate of less than 700 cases per 100,000 residents as of May 19, according to the plan.

“Any person coming from a highly-infected area, as defined per the Florida Governor’s guidelines, must reserve a minimum stay of 14 nights and follow CDC self-quarantine guidelines,” the letter states.

The restrictions on rentals were lifted ahead of Memorial Day weekend and in time for some theme parks reopening, including Universal Orlando on June 5.

The restart of vacation rentals will help Orange County’s fund for tourism-related improvements, which received a hit due to coronavirus closures.

Since 1979, anyone who has stayed at a hotel or vacation rental in Orange County pays a Tourist Development Tax as part of their rental cost.