Miami’s Airbnb quagmire

2017-03-11

As Airbnb continues to grow in prominence throughout the nation, battle lines are being drawn over these online temporary home and apartment rentals in Florida. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado is waging his own war with Airbnb over Florida property owners illegally renting out homes and apartments to tourists via the popular website.

Airbnb enjoys a strong presence in Miami. Currently the home-sharing platform has 2,300 Miami-based hosts who have provided temporary lodging for 140,300 tourists between February 2016 and February 2017. The average stay was four days.

Airbnb and their lobbyists are trying to be flexible in any possible discussions, asserting that their presence is good for the Florida economy. Regalado claims that there is nothing to negotiate, arguing that daily rentals are anything but beneficial and more of a nuisance.

According to a 2015 opinion from the city's zoning administrator, daily and weekly rentals in residential areas are illegal under Miami's zoning code. Laws are enforced on a complaint-by-complaint basis when a resident reports a violation by calling 311. From there, code officers are sent out to cite properties.

However, follow through on enforcement comes after the fact. Code officers must see an offense to pursue any action. The simple act of a guest refusing to open the door can undermine, if not immediately end any possible investigation.

After backtracking on legislation to reinforce Miami's ban on short-term rentals in neighborhoods and impose regulations elsewhere, Regalado suggested another solution: proactively target Airbnb hosts with the city vigorously enforcing zoning laws. Commissioners have yet to take action on the proposal.

Airbnb is no stranger to battles, particularly in the Sunshine State. Miami Beach imposed $20,000 in fines over illegal short-term rentals. Negotiations for a tax agreement with the county show few signs of life.

Posted on Real Estate Litigation