Miami Beach will now fine Airbnb and other illegal short-term rental platforms

Miami Beach has established itself as one of the most anti-Airbnb cities in the country, banning short-term rentals across much of the island and issuing $20,000 fines for illegal listings. But until now, these fines have targeted landlords, not platforms like Airbnb.

Last week the City Commissioners decided to change that. After collecting just over $100,000 of the more than $1 million in fines it imposed, the city is now looking to sue Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway and other companies that list rentals that operate. illegally.

“For the platforms, it’s a big deal that they’re suddenly online about this,” Mayor Dan Gelber said at the committee meeting last Wednesday. “And we didn’t touch them. We only sued the owners.”

Indeed, Airbnb spokesperson Ben Breit said the company had “serious concerns about the proposal.” However, he adds, “we have entered into discussions with the administration and we look forward to working on a solution that mutually benefits the city, residents and hosts.”

Under the new rules, which passed first reading last Wednesday, short-term rental listings should display a city-issued business tax receipt number and tourist tax certificate number. Platforms like Airbnb would not be allowed to list properties without this information. A first breach would cost a platform $1,000. Subsequent violations would result in fines of up to $5,000, although this amount could increase.

“It may be beneficial to increase the fine to make sure it’s not something that represents the cost of doing business,” Deputy Chief City Attorney Alek Boksner said at the meeting.

Gelber said he expects the city to come into litigation “at some point” over the new rules. But he said it’s worth doing anyway because he doesn’t think Miami Beach’s previous approach, in which legal rentals must go through a licensing process and illegal rentals face penalties. hefty fines, was a sufficient deterrent. If he was at least 60% effective, he said, he wouldn’t push the new rules.

“I don’t feel like we’ve protected our citizens enough,” Gelber said. “So that’s the next step.”

A public hearing on the order is scheduled for September 12. Different polls have found different levels of support for short-term rentals in South Florida. One found that 94% of Southeast Floridians want Airbnb and other businesses to be allowed to operate legally in their hometown.

Corn another one (led by a lobbyist who represents Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association in the Florida Legislature) found that 49% of Miami-Dade voters don’t think their neighbors should be allowed to rent their properties short-term.

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