Most Floridians want the right to rent out a bedroom, or their whole home, or their rental property, as short-term lodging for vacationers.

A new survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy and released Tuesday finds that 73 percent of Floridians believe they and their neighbors should have the right to rent out their primary homes to vacationers for short periods of time, and only 15 percent think it’s a bad idea. The same portion of the Florida population thinks it also should be OK to rent out a secondary or investment residential property for short-term vacationers.

The matter of vacation rentals has sizzled through Tallahassee for several Legislative Sessions running and is doing so again this winter, as the interests behind vacation rental houses, a patchwork industry held together by marketing giants like Airbnb and HomeAway, go against those concerned that mini-illegal hotels can destroy residential communities, a position supported by both municipal and county organizations and the traditional hotel and motel industry at risk of giving up market share.

This year the battle, to regulate or deregulate vacation rental homes, is being fought over what is now the Committee Substitute to Senate Bills 1400 and 1640 in the Florida Senate, and House Bill 773 in the Florida House. It’s playing out as a battle of property rights of the home owners versus property rights of their neighbors, or the elimination of patchwork, local regulations versus preservation of the city and county home rule, while the vacation home marketing companies and the hotel organizations seek the background.

The question of what Floridians think was reinforced by the Mason-Dixon survey, which found only small numbers of Floridians – less than 20 percent across the questions and across even nearly all of the demographic breakouts – who have no opinion on the matters. The pollster reached 625 Florida registered voters, on both land lines and cell phones, from Jan. 3 through Feb. 1 last week. Mason-Dixon said the margin of error was no more than 4 percentage points.

Among the findings:

– 73 percent believe Floridians should have the right to rent out their primary homes on short-term bases, while 15 percent believe they should not.

The positive responses never fall below two-thirds or rise above four-fifths of respondents under demographic breakdowns by region, gender, age, race, or party affiliation.

– 73 percent believe Floridians should have the right to rent out a secondary home or investment property as a vacation rental, and only 16 percent disagree.

Again, there was very little change in any of the support across regions, genders, ages, races or party registrations.

– 61 percent of respondents believe regulations of vacation rental homes should be consistent throughout the state, while 22 percent believe it should not.

Once again, there was consistency in the opinions across demographics, with people in Southwest Florida (68 percent yes to 17 percent no) showing the most support for consistent regulations, and those in Tampa Bay (55 to 26) and Central Florida (56 to 27) showing the least support for that idea.

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