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Miami-Dade dominates state’s Airbnb earnings as county nears tax agreement

In this Nov. 21, 2016 photo, Randall Baker, a College Park landscape architect who rents out two cottages next door to his home as Airbnb rentals, sweeps the front patio of one of his rentals, in Orlando, Florida. The city says Baker is violating zoning rules, but he argues he is being singled out. Similar debates are playing out across the state.
In this Nov. 21, 2016 photo, Randall Baker, a College Park landscape architect who rents out two cottages next door to his home as Airbnb rentals, sweeps the front patio of one of his rentals, in Orlando, Florida. The city says Baker is violating zoning rules, but he argues he is being singled out. Similar debates are playing out across the state. AP

In a continued effort to reach an agreement with every county in Florida, home-sharing platform Airbnb is letting the money do the talking.

According to a report released Tuesday, Floridians who hosted a listing on the platform earned a combined $273 million in 2016 — about 41 percent of which went to hosts in Miami-Dade County.

Airbnb is also responsible for welcoming 1.5 million people to Florida this year, although that’s a small fraction of all of Florida’s tourists. In the first nine months of the year alone, Florida broke a state tourism record with 85 million visitors.

Still, Florida continues to mature as an Airbnb stronghold, with guest arrivals ballooning 114 percent year over year. The number of hosts on the platform has increased by 74 percent to a total of 32,000 hosts, according to the report.

Home-sharing is an economic driver in cities and neighborhoods in Florida that typically get overlooked due to lack of hotels. Meanwhile, the infusion of new revenue to the state and county coffers is helping local policymakers fund critical local services.

Tom Martinelli, Airbnb Florida policy director

No place is that growth more apparent than in Miami-Dade, Airbnb’s fourth-largest market in the nation. This year, Airbnb guests spent about $130 million in the city of Miami, including $50 million at local restaurants, Airbnb said.

But Miami-Dade and 35 other counties in Florida have yet to sign a tax agreement with Airbnb, which would let the platform collect and remit taxes on behalf of its hosts — money that would go back to supporting each county’s tourism economy.

Airbnb, which currently has agreements with 31 counties, said its objective in 2017 is to pen tax plans with the entire state.

According to Michael Hernández, County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s communications chief, the county has had multiple meetings with the home-sharing platform as recently as last week. Both Deputy Mayor Edward Marquez and the county tax collector’s office have been meeting with Airbnb, which has a 15-person office Midtown.

Hernández said there are still a few issues to iron out with Airbnb that aren’t considered “insurmountable.” The county expects to be close to reaching an agreement early next year.

$113 million Amount Airbnb hosts in Miami-Dade County earned in 2016, about 41 percent of the state total

But while Miami-Dade nears friendly territory with the platform, Miami Beach continues to crack down on short-term rentals in response to residents who argue Airbnb and sites like it are eroding their quality of life, attracting partiers and creating safety concerns.

As of late November, the city has levied $4 million in fines to residents who illegally host short-term rentals, which are not permitted in single-family homes and in most areas of the Beach. Last week, the city voted to add additional restrictions, requiring hosts in areas that are zoned for short-term rentals to submit an affidavit to the city and obtain a business tax receipt and resort tax account to affirm they are operating legally. Hosts will also have to show that their condo association rules allow short-term rentals.

Penalties for violators start at $1,000.

Resistance against home-sharing is prevalent across the state. Earlier this month, a neighborhood watch group called AirbnbWATCH Florida launched a campaign to increase awareness of the potential hazards of sites like Airbnb. The group has been distributing yard signs and calling on Floridians to reach out to their elected officials in opposition to the platform’s continued growth.

Chabeli Herrera: 305-376-3730, @ChabeliH

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