National child safety advocate calls on FL legislators to keep local short-term rental laws
Stop Child Predators: “Removing local protections would endanger children across Florida”
TALLAHASSEE, FL – National child safety advocacy group, Stop Child Predators, called on Florida legislators today to strengthen the state’s short-term rental regulations while enabling local jurisdictions to keep or pass additional protections. The group called the current bill’s prohibition of local short-term rental protections “a disaster waiting to happen that would endanger children across Florida.”
“Commercial real estate companies, exploiting short-term rental sites like Airbnb, are turning communities into neighborhoods of strangers and removing local protections would exacerbate the problem putting tens of thousands of children in harm’s way,” stated Stacie Rumenap, President of Stop Child Predators. “Tools like sex offender lists are becoming obsolete as there is no safeguard in place to stop a child predator from renting an Airbnb property next door.”
Over the last year, there have been numerous stories in cities across the country of Airbnb rentals being used for prostitution, drug trafficking and out-of-control parties, which have led to violence and even shootings in residential neighborhoods. Just this week, WFMY Channel 2 (CBS affiliate in North Carolina) reported that a wanted sex offender was found staying at a local Airbnb rental.
Rumenap said her group, Stop Child Predators, has started raising awareness of the potential negative impacts of short-term rentals. She said the new trend of commercial Airbnb hosts buying up residential homes and apartments to rent out as ‘illegal hotels’ has raised concerned with local community leaders across the country as neighborhoods cope with a weekly turnover of transients and strangers coming and going from their communities.
She pointed to a recent USA Today article documenting bad behavior by Airbnb guests and hosts, including illegal hidden cameras, filming pornography, setting up marijuana grow rooms, trashing homes, and stealing items.
“Airbnb certainly does not condone such bad behaviors through their site, but they also have not done nearly enough to combat the unacceptable actions of its operators and guests.” stated Rumenap. “What started as an innocent home-sharing operation has turned in a loophole for commercial real estate interests to buy up homes and apartments turning them into mini-hotels in residential neighborhoods.”
Stop Child Predators calls on parents and homeowner associations to call their legislator before it is too late.
“Parents across Florida need to call and email their local legislator today and tell them to oppose removal of local protections to regulate the short-term rentals like Airbnb,” stated Rumenap. “If this bill passes as is, the community fabric of neighborhoods across Florida will be fractured and local schools, parents and children will have to contend with more complete strangers in their neighborhoods. “