County Commission passes new short term rental regulations, including limits on guests

Mario Mateo Miami Herald

Miami-Dade County is one of the top five Airbnb destinations in the country, with 6,800 hosts renting their homes. But for the past year, Miami Beach has been fining locals who rent on platforms like Airbnb $20,000 for each violation.

Hosts for Airbnb and other short-term rental companies face a series of new regulations following Tuesday’s passage of a new ordinance indicated to preserve the integrity of county neighborhoods and preserve safety while allowing renters to operate legally in unincorporated Miami-Dade.

Airbnb, the largest player in the short-term rental space, now counts Miami-Dade among its top five regions in the country. Since the county reached a taxing agreement with the platform effective May 1, Miami-Dade has collected more than $2 million in taxes from Airbnb renters.

The ordinance, introduced by Commissioner Sally Heyman and fine-tuned over six months, would apply to 940 active Airbnb hosts, along with hosts on HomeAway, VRBO and other platforms. According to the new ordinance, hosts must sign up for a certificate of use, register for a business tax receipt, screen for sexual offenders and enforce a number of “vacation rental standards” on their guests.

“Airbnb now has an ability to enter into an agreement with Miami-Dade County to bring hosts under compliance, which is a good thing,” said Tom Martinelli, head of public policy in Florida for Airbnb. “We do have some legal concerns and we are going to explore those, but I think this is an improvement” over previously proposed rules.

The ordinance goes into effect in 90 days.

The new requirements include:

▪ Hosts must apply for a certificate of use, which would require a “minimal” application fee, Heyman said. Applicants will have to provide contact information for the property owner (who is also liable for any violations) and the short-term rental host, as well as the platform where the vacation rental will be listed.

In their applications, hosts will also have to certify that they will be collecting and remitting local tourist and state taxes, have permission from the property owner to rent short-term, carry insurance coverage on the property and have a vacation rental license with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Hosts will also have to indicate whether they are renting a room, rooms or an entire dwelling and will have to verify how many times that property was used as a vacation rental in the previous year.

Hosts will also have to acknowledge that the property owner is aware he or she risks losing a homestead exemption by renting short-term.

The certificate of use must be renewed annually and will be revoked, with few exceptions, if the property has three or more violations in the preceding 12 months.

▪ Hosts must notify renters of all government rules and the limitations at the vacation rental in terms of access for disabled visitors. Hosts must also post the certificate of use and their contact information inside the rental.

▪ If applicable, hosts must notify their homeowners association or condo association that they are renting the property short-term and adhere to the association or board’s vacation rental policies.

▪ If a host lives 2,500 feet from a school, he or she will be required to ensure, via a nationwide search that can be conducted by the Miami-Dade County Police Department, that a prospective guest is not a registered sexual offender or sexual predator. Registered sexual offenders or predators can’t stay at a rental that is near a school for four days or more in a month.

▪ Hosts must report all issues or violations with the county or police and the corresponding rental platform. They’re expected to be available 24/7 to handle guest issues and must either be on-site or rent the property only if they live there more than six months a year.

▪ Hosts must also maintain a register with the names and dates of all guests who stay at the home or apartment — including people invited to the property by the guests. The maximum overnight occupancy at any short-term rental should not exceed two people per room, plus two per property for a maximum of 12. During the day, capacity is limited to 16 people.

▪ Guests are expected to follow standard garbage procedures, noise restrictions (including no amplified sound outdoors), public nuisance laws and rules for pets, in coordination with the host. Guest parking is limited to two cars at a time on the property or on the street.

Fines for violations range from $100 for a first offense to $2,500 for a third offense within 24 months. Five percent of all money collected from violations or fines will go into Miami-Dade’s Affordable Housing Trust.

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