Orange County to explore regulating Airbnb-like car rental businesses

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — As the tourism industry struggled to recover during the waning days of the pandemic and workers still couldn’t find a way to make a living, Alexandre Takahashi and his parents found a lifeline.


The family of five adults, realizing there was no need for so many cars at their house, began renting out their vehicles to visitors and locals on Turo.com, which has been described as an Airbnb for cars.

“We couldn’t get any jobs for a while and that was helping us out a lot,” Takahashi said.

The business began growing, and the family added cars to their fleet. Eventually, Takahashi’s father quit his job to manage the rentals full time.

The family now has 18 cars available to rent out on Turo, from Mustangs to Toyotas. Most of their clientele is Brazilian, comfortable with the Portuguese-speaking family. Their location close to Orlando International Airport makes their cars a hot commodity, and he said each of their cars will be booked 75% of the time during their busiest months, bringing in hundreds of dollars per day.

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They’re not the only ones, either. Their neighborhood now has a handful of different private car rental businesses operating with dozens of cars between them.

It’s causing other neighbors to complain, and headaches for HOA President Nigel Gough.

“It’s just taking up more space [and] it’s a safety issue,” Gough explained. “We don’t know who’s coming into the community to rent these cars. We’ve got people coming in at 11 o’clock at night from the airport.”

The Takahashis admit they weren’t the greatest neighbors in the early days, but they’ve since evolved. They now rent a parking lot to store all but the cars they use themselves. They keep those cars in their driveway, except when they detail their cars or when a scheduling mishap leaves them with extra.

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They also no longer meet their customers at home, driving cars to a nearby strip mall for the hand-off.

“I know that the HOA doesn’t want hundreds of cars on the streets, especially in front of other people,” Takahashi said.

However, this type of business has flown under the radar, and many governments don’t have regulations in place to police businesses that are less considerate.

The lack of available regulation concerned Gough enough to email his county commissioner last week to ask if guard rails could be put in place so things don’t get out of control.

“Some people can’t even park outside their own homes,” he said. “Nobody’s doing anything about it.”

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Orange County’s Planning, Environmental and Development Services division is now scheduled to meet next week to discuss issue of private rental cars and the impact this type of activity may cause, a spokeswoman said Tuesday, and said it was a result of Gough’s email.

The county didn’t have any other comment on the topic, including whether anything was already on the books that could apply, but said more information would be available after the meeting.

Takahashi said he agreed some guidelines were necessary to prevent the sort of free-for-all his neighbors were afraid of, but hoped leaders wouldn’t take away his family’s ability to earn a living.

“As long as we’re parking only in our driveway, I think it shouldn’t be a concern to the to the HOA,” he said. “As long as we’re doing things that don’t bother the other neighbors, we should be able to do it.”

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