Letters to the Editor

Investors are buying up our properties

A recent report confirmed what many Miamians already knew — investors have been snapping up properties in Miami-Dade to convert them into rentals, and many of those investors are renting them on a nightly basis through sites like Airbnb. This trend poses some serious considerations for our community.

The report found that revenue generated by multi-unit, entire-home hosts increased in Miami by 105 percent between 2015 and 2016, to more than $110 million. While home-sharing still occurs, the real revenue driver is commercial operators. Airbnb disputes this data, even though it’s pulled directly from their website.

Airbnb could ensure that each of its hosts operates in a lawful manner. Instead, it provides a platform for renters to break the law and hides the identity of investors from tax collectors, cities and the state. Now, Airbnb is fighting in Tallahassee to pass bills that would take away from Florida’s local jurisdictions what little power they have to regulate rentals.

Airbnb also claims that the report, and really, any effort to curb their behavior, is led by greedy, national hotel chains. While corporate-owned chains certainly have a stake in the outcome, it’s the small, independent operators, like myself, who are most negatively affected. We operate in areas zoned for commercial traffic. We pay all business and tourism taxes and have to comply with local health and fire safety codes.

The mayors of Miami and Miami Beach have both tried to work with Airbnb to address this issue in a reasonable way, and Airbnb fights them at every turn. It’s time the community pushes back. Appeal to local and state policymakers to find a common-sense, middle ground that protects our communities and doesn’t penalize businesses that are playing by the rules.

Stefano Frittella, owner, Pelican Hotel & Café,

Miami Beach