Miami Beach Could Soon Arrest People Operating Airbnb-Like Rentals Without A License

By Kyra Gurney
Miami Herald

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) At a meeting on Wednesday, commissioners in Miami voted to criminalize operating a business (like Airbnb) without a license after the second offense. The City Commission also passed new rules requiring platforms that advertise short-term rentals to post listings only if they include business license.

Miami Herald

In its ongoing battle against illegal short-term rentals, Miami Beach has developed tough tactics: $20,000 fines, late-night enforcement visits, and even an online tool to help property owners screen potential tenants for violations of the city’s short-term rental laws.

But none of it has been enough to control the city’s flourishing illegal rentals market. Now, Miami Beach wants to criminalize operating a business, such as a short-term rental, for more than two days without a license. The city is also restricting how short-term rentals are advertised on platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway.

At a meeting on Wednesday, commissioners voted to criminalize operating a business without a license after the second offense. The violation is currently punishable by a $1,000 civil fine, but if the new proposal passes a final vote in October, violators could face up to 60 days in jail for a third strike.

Each day operating without a license is considered a separate offense, so unlicensed short-term rental hosts could be arrested for renting a property for three days or more. Miami Beach prohibits rentals of six months or less in most residential areas.

Mayor Dan Gelber, who proposed the measure, said that criminalizing a third violation would give the city an extra tool to go after the operators of any type of unlicensed business. He noted that a Miami-Dade County ordinance already makes it a misdemeanor to operate without a license, but said that the county ordinance is not often enforced in Miami Beach. The city’s existing ordinance criminalizes unlicensed operations only for continued violations of 30 days or more, which can be difficult to enforce.

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