By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – On Friday last week (August 2nd) it was reported that the City of Miami Beach and Airbnb had reached a settlement, after the vacation rental site sued the city over strict requirements and compounding penalties.
The terms of the agreement are that Airbnb will provide a mandatory field for hosts to fill out on registration of a listing, which will list business tax information required by the city. However Airbnb is not responsible to verify that a host’s information is correct.
Miami Beach officials will have to verify the registration is accurate. Chicago, San Francisco, and Louisville also require Airbnb listings to display short-term rental certification numbers.
In addition, Airbnb will also pay $380,000 to the city that can be used to ‘educate residents about home-sharing rules.’
An Airbnb spokesperson said, “We welcome today’s settlement as a win-win breakthrough for Airbnb and our Miami Beach hosts as we move towards a constructive and collaborative working relationship with the city.”
“It is a win for our hosts who will have certainty as to the rules and a win for the city when it comes to having a regulatory framework that will work.”
One of the new rules coming into place since September are that the city prosecute hosts who provide fake business license numbers in order to list their properties on the site. The penalty for the criminal violation is sixty days of jail time and/or a $500 fine.
“What it’s going to boil down to is our code enforcement department is going to conduct searches on Airbnb’s website and verify,” said Aleksandr Boksner, chief deputy city attorney for Miami Beach.
“That will facilitate the ability to deal with the enforcement of the proper display of the numbers. It exposes the host to fraudulent criminal penalties.”
Miami Beach, which welcomes millions of visitors each year, has struggled to strike a balance of interests for residents and the tourism industry. The city prohibits rentals of six months or less in most residential neighborhoods, but allows them in a few areas.
To enforce this the city has the most expensive fines in the country for illegal short-term renting — $20,000 for the first violation and $40,000 for the second, and another $20,000 for each following violation.
Since 2016 when the fines were enacted, it is reported that the city has only collected $500,000, in contrast to the almost $8 million fined since June, according to the Miami Herald.
According to Airbnb, hosts in Miami-Dade County earned a combined $204 million in income and delivered $10 million in bed taxes in 2018.