Airbnb hosts become targets of inspection in Miami

Inspectors search for violations in city

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI - When the issue of Airbnb being allowed to function in Miami came up weeks ago, a slew of residents put their names down on a list to speak during the public comment section of the meeting.

Now, that list is being used as a confession of sorts, putting those Airbnb hosts in the crosshairs of receiving fines for violating as Miami has zoning prohibiting short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods -- and they voted 3-2 to reaffirm that a few weeks ago.

"Several people already have received notice of violations," Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said.

Regalado pulled that list after the March 23 meeting.

"They were putting themselves in harm's way by officially, publicly, on the record saying that they are violating the code of the city of Miami," he said.

Code-enforcement officers have been given directive to observe signs of short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods.

"As an inspector, we're supposed to look to see if there’s evidence, maybe -- different cars or out of towns tags," said Suzann Nicholson, an inspector. 

Typically, such evidence, or a neighbor's complaint, starts a process of compiling and confirming evidence -- something this public record speaker's list instantly provides.

"There are some people that have a good track record and don't bother anyone on the block," said an Airbnb host who wanted to remain anonymous. "My neighbor is incredible. No one has any problems on this street."

A few blocks away, those who live among Airbnb hosts back the mayor's crackdown.

"What they should do is mount a campaign to have the zoning changed and let democracy and let the people speak," said a homeownowner against Airbnb, who did not want to be named. "Don't force that activity in a neighborhood where people have overwhelmingly made choices to live in a neighborhood that doesn't support that activity.”

As for that code crackdown, it comes with a way out for hosts who promise to stop hosting. 

“The only way to comply is not to do it," Regalado said. "And if they don’t do it, they will never get fined."

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