Miami-Dade has hundreds of illegal Airbnbs. Now county wants to water down rules
Miami-Dade County is considering loosening restrictions on short-term rental companies even as hundreds of home hotels operate within its limits illegally.
On Wednesday, the board of county commissioners will weigh amendments to a 2017 ordinance that will strip down the regulations for short-term rentals in unincorporated Miami-Dade by letting companies off the hook for allowing unregistered rentals to persist on their sites. The ordinance is the result of a two-year negotiation between the most prominent short-term rental company, Airbnb, and Miami-Dade County about how best to regulate the booming home hospitality business.
“We want everyone to be registered, compliant and educated,” said Lourdes Gomez, deputy director of the county’s Regulatory and Economic Resources Department, which oversees zoning and permitting. “We are happy to have the cooperation of these platforms.”
The proposal would eliminate an existing regulation that requires home-sharing platforms to prevent unregistered hosts from operating rentals on their sites. The county has not enforced the provision because, says Gomez, federal law prevents platforms from policing the content on their sites.
The county began requiring anyone who rents out a home or part of a home for less than 30 days to get a license, called a “certificate of use,” when it passed its first ordinance in 2017. It prevented Airbnb from processing payments for unlicensed rentals and said the county would not hold Airbnb responsible as long as the company provided the county all certificate of use numbers, associated addresses and host contact information on a weekly basis, and removed listings with invalid or expired license numbers after notification from the county.
Only a small fraction of owners with listings on Airbnb have registered. As of this summer, there were 725 entire homes listed on Airbnb in the county’s unincorporated areas, according to data scraped from Airbnb on the real estate site BNBVestor. Airbnb declined to provide the total number of listings. Gomez said only 69 short-term rentals in Miami-Dade have licenses today.
While the county would prefer that everyone operating a short-term rental be registered, Gomez said the main goal is to ensure short-term rentals operate “invisibly,” so as not to bother neighbors. The county’s code enforcement team will investigate a short-term rental if a complaint is made, but most complaints are unrelated to short-term rentals, said Gomez.
Miami-Dade’s lax regulations make it a target for real estate investors who buy up multiple properties, take them out of the local rental market, and rent them to tourists full time, shrinking the pool of affordable housing, a Herald investigation from June 2019 found.