Renter sues for $57K refund linked to illegal Miami Beach short-term rental

The lawsuit alleges owner used brokers to advertise his property in Sunset Island, where short-term rentals are prohibited

Oct.October 01, 2019 09:45 AM
Greg Mirmelli’s vacation rental property at 2120 Bay Avenue in Miami Beach

Greg Mirmelli’s vacation rental property at 2120 Bay Avenue in Miami Beach

A Wellington woman wants a $57,000 refund from Miami Beach real estate investor Greg Mirmelli because he allegedly did not disclose that the Sunset Island house that she rented from him was in a neighborhood where short-term rentals are prohibited.

Aurora Rangel de Alba is suing Mirmelli, who has tangled with the city over its short-term rental crackdown, in an attempt to get her money back. Mirmelli could not be reached for comment and his attorneys did not respond to email and phone messages.

“She was never told that short-term rentals are not permitted in [Sunset Island],” said Rangel de Alba’s lawyer Alejandro Hoyos. “Upon making that discovery, she left almost immediately. Unfortunately, Mr. Mirmelli was not inclined to return [all of] her funds and she had no choice but to initiate the lawsuit.”

Rangel de Alba relied on a realty company, Miami Beach Luxury Rentals, to assist her in finding a place to stay during the holiday season last year, according to the lawsuit. Rangel de Alba claims she selected Mirmelli’s five-bedroom house at 2120 Bay Avenue after she was shown photographs and descriptions of the property and its amenities. She signed the rental agreement on Nov. 15, 2018 for a seven-day stay between Dec. 27, 2018 to Jan. 3, 2019, the lawsuit states.

Rangel de Alba alleges that Miami Beach Luxury Rentals and Mirmelli knew the Sunset Island home was in a residential neighborhood where short-term stays are banned when they quoted her a price of $102,672, plus a security deposit of $20,000, both of which she charged to a credit card. On Dec. 28, the day after she and her family arrived, Rangel de Alba claims the house was “unclean, in disarray and unfit for her family.” So when she began looking for another place to rent, Mirmelli and the realty company advised her not to tell any of the neighbors and the security guards at the entrance gate that she was staying at his house for a one week stay, the lawsuit alleges.

The renter decided to leave with her family and demanded a full refund, including the security deposit, according to the complaint, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Over the next five months, Miami Beach Luxury Rentals and Mirmelli only returned $65,672, Rangel de Alba alleges.

In a response to Rangel de Alba’s lawsuit, Mirmelli’s attorneys blame her for not properly researching Miami Beach’s short-term rental prohibitions and neighborhoods where such rentals are not allowed. “Any alleged damages are due to her inadequate due diligence, failure to negotiate sufficient agreements, poor investment decisions, and own inaction,” the response states.

Mirmelli is no stranger to Miami Beach’s short-term rental ban. In August of last year, he sued the city, claiming that Miami Beach was not enforcing its rules against another investor who rented properties illegally, and that the short-term rental regulations are unconstitutional. His property on Sunset Island has a fair market value of $9.4 million, according to Zillow.

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