MIAMI - Dozens sat in Miami City Hall on Monday and watched as homeowner representatives ripped the burgeoning short-term rental sharing businesses like app-based Airbnb.
For hours, a heated debate ensued over whether people in Miami can rent their properties to tourists -- a practice that is against code in some areas of South Florida.
Miami commissioners are scheduled to vote this week to reaffirm the city's zoning against residential rentals to visitors.
"Any commercial intrusion in the residential single-family home is illegal," Mayor Tomas Regalado said.
Miami Beach upped penalties to $20,000 per infraction, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said.
“We have really beefed up our code compliance," Levine said.
So far, Miami Beach has collected $3 million in fines from short-term renters.
While city-by-city rules develop, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez proposes collecting bed tax from the short term rentals - to level the playing field with hotels that have to pay.
Ana, who declined to give her last name, is a Miami-Dade County school teacher who said she relies on the extra income from her Airbnb rentals.
"People think strangers come to your home, but they are good people," she said. "Airbnb does a lot of vetting."
Airbnb does proactively weed out problem guests, who make up a fraction of its users, according to the company.
"Take Little Haiti, Wynwood (and) Little Havana, these are phenomenal growing neighborhoods that don't happen to have hotels," Airbnb Florida spokesman Ben Breit said.
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