Coral Gables sues FlipKey over illegal short-term rentals

Miami /
May.May 17, 2017 09:45 AM

While Coral Gables plays nice with two short-term vacation lodging companies, city officials are taking a third firm to court.

City Attorney Craig Leen told The Real Deal that Coral Gables is hammering out agreements with Airbnb and Homeaway to stop illegal short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods. However, Coral Gables had to sue TripAdvisor-owned FlipKey because the company has ignored warnings and citations about allowing Coral Gables residential property owners to advertise short-term vacation rentals on its web application, Leen said.

“The city is very protective of its residential areas,” Leen said. “We do not allow commercial activity or overnight accommodations in residential neighborhoods. FlipKey never responded to a cease and desist letter. The city gave the company a citation and they didn’t respond to that either.”

TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer did not respond to a message left on his voicemail and a FlipKey spokesperson did not respond to an email request for comment.

Leen said Coral Gables also sent cease and desist letters in early January to Airbnb and Homeaway. “We were contacted by both to work the matter out,” he said. “We are in the process of doing that. We would still enforce our code and they would help out.” The city is working out agreements that would last for six months, he said.

At the May 9 city commission meeting, Leen told Coral Gables elected officials that his office would prepare a letter stating short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods are prohibited. Airbnb and Homeaway would then provide that letter to its hosts in Coral Gables and the companies would also post it on their websites. Leen also said both companies would not interfere with code enforcement actions, but would not provide personal information about the hosts to the city.

“I think it is a good compromise and a good solution,” said Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli.

In a company statement, an Airbnb spokesperson told TRD that the company and Coral Gables worked in good faith to reach a practical solution. “Over the next six months, we look forward to furthering our partnership with Coral Gables to help develop fair and sensible home sharing rules that work for everyone,” the statement said. An email to Homeaway’s media department requesting comment was not returned.

According to the city’s May 8 lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Coral Gables is seeking an injunction barring FlipKey from listing properties in Coral Gables. FlipKey ignored the city’s initial Jan. 4 warning to stop listing Coral Gables homes and apartments by the 15th day of that month, the lawsuit alleges.

The city sent a citation on Jan. 18 addressed to FlipKey’s then-vice-president Tracey Zehn at the company’s Boston headquarters stating the company would start accumulating daily fines of $500. However, Zehn left the company shortly thereafter to become president of Zipcar. According to Leen, FlipKey missed a deadline of Feb. 7 to request an administrative hearing and has accrued $59,000 in fines, plus a $108 administrative fee.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Constellation's Eduardo Otaola and Boschetti's Jose Boschetti with rendering of proposing a 15-story, mixed-use luxury rental project (LinkedIn, Boschetti Group, Arquitectonica, Getty)
Developers propose mixed-use luxury rentals in Coral Gables
Developers propose mixed-use luxury rentals in Coral Gables
Allied Partners' Eric Hadar and RH's Gary Friedman with the Savoy hotel (Allied Partners, Getty, Google Maps)
Inside RH’s plans for $100M renovation of Miami Beach hotel
Inside RH’s plans for $100M renovation of Miami Beach hotel
Randy Walker with 60 Edgewater Drive (ExCo Group, Brown Harris Stevens)
Gables Club developer Marc Kovens sells his penthouse
Gables Club developer Marc Kovens sells his penthouse
Gables Club Tower II at 60 Edgewater Drive in Coral Gables (Condo.com, Getty)
Coral Gables closing tops Miami-Dade’s weekly condo sales
Coral Gables closing tops Miami-Dade’s weekly condo sales
Deerwood Town Center at 12085-2107 Southwest 152nd Street in Miami-Dade County, One Biscayne Tower at 2 South Biscayne Boulevard in Miami and 2990 Ponce office building in Coral Gables with Gildenson Real Estate's Eduardo Gildenson and CP Group’s Angelo Bianco (Google Maps, Gildenson Real Estate, CP Group)
Lease roundup: Quest takes space at One Biscayne Tower & more
Lease roundup: Quest takes space at One Biscayne Tower & more
Codina Partners’ Armando Codina and Ana-Marie Codina Barlick with 5350 Park condo project (Codina Partners, Getty)
Judge orders Codina Partners’ affiliate to pay Grycon $8M in damages
Judge orders Codina Partners’ affiliate to pay Grycon $8M in damages
Balzebre Investments' Robert Balzebre with 8710 Southwest 72nd Street
Winn-Dixie sues landlord over leaky roof at South Miami store
Winn-Dixie sues landlord over leaky roof at South Miami store
Allied Partners founder Eric Hadar and The Savoy Hotel & Beach Club at 425 Ocean Drive (Google Maps, Getty)
Investor seeks $50M for allegedly botched Ocean Drive hotel repairs
Investor seeks $50M for allegedly botched Ocean Drive hotel repairs
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...