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Florida Association of Realtors challenges City of Marco Vacation Rental Ordinance

FAR v. City of Marco Island
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Summary of Ordinance
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On March 27, 2023, the Florida Association of Realtors filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and for Writ of Quo Warranto in the Circuit Court of Collier County challenging the Vacation Rental Ordinance passed in August 2022 by the Marco Island City Council.

The Vacation Rental Ordinance is being challenged as unconstitutional and "depriving homeowners of the economic value and the reasonable and beneficial use and enjoyment of their properties".

The Ordinance (City of Marco Island Ordinance 22-08) requires that a, "...transient rental registration in residential single family (RSF) districts..." be implemented. The Ordinance specifies the registration process which requires the application for and issuance of a Transient Rental Certificate of Compliance.

As set out in the complaint: “Notably, the Marco Island City Attorney, the Marco Island Police Chief, and members of the City Council repeatedly warned that the Vacation Rental Ordinance violated citizens’ First Amendment and Equal Protection rights, as well as numerous provisions of Florida laws. The City Council, however, largely ignored their concerns and voted to remove the requirement that the City Attorney certify that the ordinance was legally sufficient prior to approving its enactment.”

The lawsuit obviously has merit and we certainly anticipate that the Florida Association of Realtors will win. In approving the ordinance, the Marco City Council intentionally acted against the advice of its own City Attorney. It proceeded with the knowledge that the ordinance created an impermissible restriction on property rights and would certainly expose the City and its citizens to substantial unnecessary legal fees and liabilities.

Still, understand that the lawsuit does not currently suspend the operation of the Ordinance, and failure to comply with the Ordinance may expose the owners to severe penalties. The penalties include: issuance of a civil infraction with fines ranging from $250 to $5000 depending on the number of offenses within a 12-month period; a daily fine of $1,000 for each day the owner fails to have a valid Transient Rental Certificate, and; suspension of the Certificate, injunctive relief, liens and other civil and criminal penalties.

We regret the City’s actions and the resulting adverse impact on our community. Further, we clearly support the efforts of the Florida Association of Realtors to force the Marco City Council to play by the rules of both our United States Constitution and the laws of our State of Florida.

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