MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – In recent weeks, Local 10 News has been spotlighting the troubles short-term housing rentals have brought to South Florida.
The popularity of rental websites has made nearly every community accessible to weekend visitors, but some residents said the neighborhoods weren't designed for the crowds or the crime those visitors have brought.
"It's like a crime wave has hit us," South Florida resident Douglas Hornsby said.
It's a problem facing cities throughout South Florida. People living in North Bay Village said short-term vacation renters are bringing big groups and big problems.
The island has just 8,000 residents in three-quarters of a square mile.
"We are the densest populated by-square-mile municipality in the state of Florida," City Manager Frank Rollason said.
Local 10 reviewed records for one home on Miami View Drive notorious for large groups of weekend renters. From January to May, there were 90 police calls, including one alerting officers to a suspicious U-Haul parked out front. According to the report, a man named Bob showed a rental agreement and promised to move the truck.
The police report shows the renters loaded the truck with about $7,000 worth of art and furniture from the home.
Illegal rentals have been a big problem in Miami Beach. In May, code compliance officers cracked down.
At a home on Palm Island, an officer slapped a second-time violation fine of $40,000 on the owner. But in North Bay Village, there was no rule against it.
Mary Kramer and her husband, Jose Alvarez, spearheaded the fight for an ordinance in their city. They live feet away from a home where weekend renters would keep them up, and even use their hose to steal water when service got shut off. In late June, police knocked on their door in the middle of the night.
Police arrested Shaki Straw from the rental home next door on charges of prowling and resisting arrest.
Rollason was asked if he thought the city delayed too much in trying to get something done.
"I don’t think we delayed," Rollason said. "We looked at the laws as they existed and we followed the law."
Rollason said there were questions about how much state law allowed local cities to regulate short-term rentals after the fact
"This is America, and there's always something that can be done,'" Kramer said.
Starting this month, the city has a new ordinance that requires all short-term rental properties to pay a licensing fee and register with the city. Any that don't will be warned and then fined, starting at $250 and increasing with each violation.
Kramer said the problem is many property owners don't even know it's happening.
"What happened next door is that a man posing as a family man rented the house and then he sublet," Kramer said. "He does this all around North Bay Village. ... It sort of just destroys your morale and your sense of peace."
The new ordinance also requires the property owner or manager be local to show up in person for any problems. At last check, none of the properties in the village had registered for a license with the city.