18 Sep MAYOR OF MIAMI BEACH PROPOSES JAIL TIME FOR HOMEOWNERS RENTING SHORT-TERM
September 17, 2018 – Now that the city of Miami Beach has doled out millions in fines for short-term renting, but to date only collected a tiny fraction, they are turning towards more extreme measures to ban short-term rentals. Mayor Dan Gelber has proposed criminalizing the practice by way of going after landlords that do not have the proper licensing. If Gelber gets his way, after what they are considering a third violation, with each day being its own violation, those looking to rent their home for less than 6 months and 1 day could face 60 days of jail time.
MIAMI BEACH COMMISSION APPROVES NEW REGULATIONS
At this week’s meeting of the Miami Beach City Commission, the proposed punishments were passed on the first reading by 4 to 3. Commissioner Michael Góngora, who opposes the measure, called it “very scary.” He voiced concerns that these rules, which would apply to any business operating in Miami Beach without a BTR (Business Tax Receipt), could affect thousands of people who operate small businesses out of their homes and are not likely to know of these requirements. Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán successfully talked the commission into accepting a fine of $250 for the first offense as opposed to the proposed $1,000. Her concerns were for kids running lemonade stands or homeless selling coconuts on Miami Beach.
These fines, and possible imprisonment, are in addition to the existing fines we’ve reported on previously that include $20,000 for the first short-term-renting offense – of which the majority the city has been unable to collect on.
Additionally, the Miami Beach Commission also passed new rules requiring vacation rental platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway to only post listings if they include business license and resort tax registration numbers — information proving that the property owner has registered with Miami Beach. Airbnb has since informed the mayor’s office that this type of restriction violates federal laws protecting internet companies against liability for user-generated content.
We are all for taxation and fair and reasonable regulation of short-term rentals, but the most important fact to consider here is that these licenses and tax registration are outlawed for the vast majority of Miami Beach. Almost no areas in Miami Beach zoned residential are permitted to conduct short-term renting, and therefore do not qualify to apply for or receive these credentials. This means that the Miami Beach commission is not just looking not to punish those who don’t follow the rules of getting the license, they are seeking to threaten imprisonment for homeowners who the city will not even consider issuing the required license.
LAWSUIT AGAINST MIAMI BEACH CALLS FOR PROPERTY RIGHTS PROTECTIONS
The lawsuit that Ross played a key role in organizing, which was filed against the city this past June, along with the Goldwater Institute, is currently making its way through the courts. It’s our hope that the City of Miami Beach will ultimately realize that these types of fines and onerous regulations, go against state and federal laws that prohibit cities from restricting homeowners from making fair and best use of their properties.
Mayor Gelber cites that these new rules will be yet another tool in the city’s toolbox to enforce these regulations. We find it unfortunate that Miami Beach officials do not realize if they properly use the existing tools, which include noise violations, trash and code enforcement; they could ensure that short-term renting and the minority of residents of Miami Beach who live year-round can co-exist in harmony.