North Bay Village moves to tighten regulations on short-term rentals, impose fines

North Bay Village
North Bay Village

Responding to complaints of noise, loud music, drug use, and occasional nudity, the North Bay Village Planning and Zoning Board unanimously recommended a proposed ordinance that aims to tighten regulations of short-term rentals.

The board’s vote Tuesday evening still has to be ratified by the North Bay Village Commission prior to becoming law.

North Bay Village, a 536-acre community that runs along the John F. Kennedy Causeway between Miami Beach and Miami’s Upper Eastside, passed an ordinance regulating and licensing short-term rentals in April 2016. The law, among other things, stipulates that licensed short-term rentals can only have up to four people sleeping in a single room, that a vacation rental be at least 150 square feet in size, that a rental representative be available, and that guests be informed of the local noise ordinance.

But City Manager Frank Rollason said most homeowners who are renting out their homes for less than a month at a time never obtain a license and therefore don’t bother to follow the code. Under the new code, any homeowner without a short-term rental license who is advertising his or her home as a rental for less than 30 days can be fined $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second and subsequent time. A third violation can result in a one-year short-term rental ban.

Rollason said the law was needed because the guests of some unlicensed rentals are causing a nuisance. “It’s the noise. You got naked women running around….You have drugs and marijuana,” Rollason said.

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Many of these wild short-term guests are continuing the parties they started in Miami or Miami Beach nightspots, Rollason explained.  “It’s cheaper to stay [in North Bay Village] than it is on the Beach,” he said. “So [the guests] stay here… go to the clubs, and then come back over here.

“We’re trying to at least control what we can without violating the law,” Rollason added.

That’s because a state law, passed in 2014, prohibits most cities and counties from outright banning short-term rentals. An exception has been made for areas like Miami Beach which had a law banning short-term rentals prior to 2011.

On March 23rd, the city of Miami attempted to test that state law when it passed a law banning short-term rentals in residential areas. On April 19, following a lawsuit from Airbnb, the online booking service for short-term rentals, a judge slapped a restraining order on the city of Miami, preventing its officials from enforcing that ban or targeting Airbnb hosts with code violations.

Due to that ruling, North Bay Village officials sought to craft their law carefully, so as not to make short-term rentals prohibitive. For example, the village won’t be issuing fines like Miami Beach, which range from $20,000 to $40,000 for short-term rental violations, said City Manager Robert Switkes.

“We are keeping [the fines] in line for fines with similar activity,” Switkes said.