This year, Florida Legislature will review several bills filed regarding the state’s $60 billion tourism industry:
• A bill designed to preempt any future efforts to regulate vacation homes as if they were hotels or motels • Stiffer penalties for people who distribute fliers on hotel properties (The Safety Act of 2011)
• Easier access to liquor permits for restaurants • Preserving public spending on tourism advertising
Vacation home regulation is a contentious issue and could determine the requirements and responsibilities of those property owners. Vacation rentals have become a popular alternative to hotel accommodations in Florida, with an estimated 20,000 vacation homes in Central Florida alone, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Some hotels have argued that these homes should be forced to comply with the same rules that hotels must follow.
The regulation could also affect the safety and security of people who rent vacation homes, calling into question the issue of premises liability. Last year, the state Legislature passed a law freeing vacation home owners from having to install fire-sprinkler systems, which conventional hotels are required to do.
Inadequate security and premises liability lawsuits can unfold from accidents and crimes occurring on resort and hotel premises. Premises liability may result from negligent security, insufficient lighting, inadequate security or safety equipment, or other causes. In negligent security cases, the plaintiff who has been injured brings an action against the owner or manager of the premises or business. Those who are in control or in a position to prevent the incident where the plaintiff was injured are the parties who are most often defendants.
Negligent security and safety measures – ranging from inadequate lighting to faulty locking mechanisms and inadequate key control – can give way to resort torts including resort injuries, criminal acts, and even violent attacks, particularly when tourists are unfamiliar or unaware of the risks in their vacation environment.