A platter of short-term rental restrictions are potentially coming to renters in unincorporated Miami-Dade County.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman is sponsoring an ordinance that would require hosts on platforms such as Airbnb to sign up for a certificate of use, register for a business tax receipt and enforce a number of “vacation rental standards” on their guests.
The ordinance focuses on establishing regulations for short-term rentals, which have become increasingly popular with the growth of online platform Airbnb. Miami-Dade is among the top five regions in the nation for Airbnb bookings.
Heyman said the regulations listed in the ordinance are a combination of “the initial commission meeting (on April 4 when the county voted to approve a tax deal with Airbnb), a subsequent Sunshine meeting with messages sent in, also conversations with industries affected and municipality input.”
“It’s still a work in progress,” Heyman, who hopes to get input on fine-tuning the legislation, said in an interview Thursday.
“Hopefully, it will be a model for municipalities to pick up and then define their own regulations,” she said.
The largest part of the ordinance pertains to 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 application, 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, have 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 say 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 24 months.
The ordinance also imposes requirements on the platform hosting the listing, whether that be Airbnb, HomeAway, Craigslist or another site. Platforms will have to notify hosts of their requirements under the ordinance to rent in unincorporated Miami-Dade, maintain compliance records and provide information to the county on suspected violations of state or local law at a rental property in that area. Sites will be required to publish listings only to renters who have a valid certificate of use.
Airbnb has maintained that under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, it and other online platforms cannot be held responsible for what its users do. Still, the site supports host registration legislation.
“Our South Florida hosts welcome regulation and registration, and we very much appreciate Commissioner Heyman for her thoughtful approach to this legislation,” Benjamin Breit, a spokesman for Airbnb, said in a statement. “While we see some challenges with the ordinance as currently written, we are confident that the Board will allow our host community a seat at the table as we all pursue our joint mission of developing clear, fair rules that work for everyone in unincorporated Miami-Dade.”
The ordinance also provides for a number of other requirements, including:
▪ 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 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 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 only rent the property if they live there more than six months a year.
▪ Hosts must also maintain a register with the names and dates of all the 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) 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.
The proposal comes at the same time that bills in the Florida Senate and House to deregulate vacation rentals are swiftly moving through subcommittees. The bills would pre-empt local governments from enacting new regulations after June 2011 that prohibit or limit the “duration or frequency” of short-term rentals.
But Heyman’s ordinance goes into detail about how it would still stand if lawmakers vote in favor of the bills.
According to the ordinance, Florida Statutes still allow local governments “to enact new regulations on vacation rentals that do not pertain to duration and frequency.” It also cites the county’s Comprehensive Development Master Plan, which protects neighborhoods from “intrusion” that disrupts the nature of those areas and largely prohibits commercial use in residential communities.
The proposed ordinance reads: “These regulations in the CDMP have been in effect singe long before June 1, 2011.”
The measure comes before county commissioners Tuesday.
This story has been updated from its original version.