Floridians win right to rent their properties

October 16, 2012 | By PAUL BEARD

We are pleased to report that PLF’s Atlantic Center has secured an important win for a Floridian couple.

Eric and Colleen Lee had the dream of operating vacation rental properties in Florida. Their dream was born  after they vacationed in a Florida rental property several years ago. After much investigation, they purchased one home and then, based upon the rental success achieved, purchased a second for the same use.  Both properties are in Merritt Island, in Brevard County, Florida.

Not long after, Brevard County passed an ordinance that limited vacation rentals to areas of Merritt Island that did not include the Lees’ properties. The Lees soon realized that, without the ability to conduct short-term rentals, they faced the threat of losing the properties.  This is where PLF entered the picture, filing a lawsuit seeking to restore what the Lees had lost.

While the lawsuit was pending, PLF pursued a little-used administrative procedure seeking a determination that, under the circumstances, the Lees’ properties should be granted “vested rights” status that would again permit the use of their properties for short term vacation rentals.  Because they bought the properties prior to the ordinance’s passage, they argued, they should be entitled to continue their use of those properties as vacation rentals.

The Lees’ “vested rights” request ultimately came before the Brevard County Commission on August 21, 2012. With her husband by her side, Colleen Lee, made an impassioned plea that they be permitted to use their properties as originally intended.  Voting unanimously, the Commission did the right thing, recognizing that the Lees had a vested right to use the residences for short term rental.  On October 9, 2012, the Commission formalized its decision and, today, the Lees’ lawsuit was dismissed—marking the end of a long saga for the family and the restoration of their dream.