The Real Deal Miami

Vote on Airbnb in city of Miami postponed until later this month

Regalado: "The pricey lobbyists from Airbnb will tell us that we can make a deal. There’s nothing to negotiate.”
By Francisco Alvarado | March 09, 2017 05:15PM

A screen shot of Airbnb listings in Miami and Mayor Tomas Regalado

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado’s stand-off with Airbnb got a two-week extension.

The Miami City Commission on Thursday deferred a vote on a Regalado-sponsored resolution requiring the city to “vigorously” enforce its zoning laws. The vote was postponed until March 23 because Miami Commissioner Ken Russell is out of the country.

Since February, Regalado has floated proposals to clamp down on property owners who use the popular web-based short-term rental service to illegally rent out homes to tourists. Despite the deferral, the mayor didn’t back down from his criticisms of Airbnb because he believes daily rentals create a nuisance in the city’s residential neighborhoods.

“The pricey lobbyists from Airbnb will tell us that we can make a deal,” Regalado said. “There’s nothing to negotiate.”

Under the city’s current zoning code, daily and weekly rentals of residential properties are illegal. However, busting Airbnb users is not so easy. Code enforcers can only cite property owners if they receive a complaint to investigate illegal rentals. In addition, officers must witness the violation for a code enforcement violation to move forward.

This is the second setback for the mayor. In late February, Regalado pulled a proposed ordinance reinforcing Miami’s ban on short-term rentals from the agenda of the Miami Planning and Zoning Appeals Board. Now, he argues the best way to tackle the issue is by going after Airbnb hosts in a way similar to the city of Miami Beach, which enacted legislation imposing $20,000 fines against homeowners who rent their properties through Airbnb.  

Yet some Miami homeowners believe Regalado’s complaints are a ruse meant to protect Miami-Dade’s multi-billion dollar hotel industry. “As a Miami native, I am saddened and deeply upset by your continued attempts to restrict property owners’ rights for short-term rental,” said Nicholas Ramirez. “Now if you tell me that you want to restrict short-term rentals because of the hotel industry, I would feel less insulted by the explanation. However, this begs the question of who really is pressing the issue of regulation behind the scenes.”

According to data on short-term rentals in Miami neighborhoods provided to The Real Deal by Airbnb, there are 2,336 active hosts who earn about an average of $6,600 a year.