Airbnb Providers May Face a Misdemeanor Charge in Miami Beach if Mayor Gets his Way
No one likes to pay too much for safe, comfortable accommodation while on vacation if they can help it. With the rise in prices of hotels, private home owners have been increasingly taking advantage of a gap in the market for tourists or travelers who don’t always need the privacy of a self contained motel. Airbnb has taken off all over the world, where well priced, clean rooms are being offered at a lower price than even the most budget priced motels.
It was at first simple to just join Airbnb and add your room to the online listing. If the price and the location were competitive and attractive you would fill your accommodation weeks ahead. Unfortunately, this simplicity hasn’t lasted long enough as hosts in Miami Beach are being told that they have to go through the correct channels, otherwise they could be charged with taking part in an illegal activity.
The city authorities have attempted already to prevent unlicensed homeowners from offering their accommodation for a fee, such as through Airbnb. Now Mayor Dan Gelber is introducing a proposal to the Miami Beach City Council to make unlicensed homeowners subject to a fine and possible imprisonment if they continue to offer accommodation.
The Penalties for a Post on Airbnb with No License
It is estimated that Miami City licenses around 1,000 short-term rentals, but at least 4,500 complete homes can be found advertised on Airbnb. These rentals are not legal, but it has been virtually impossible for city authorities to enforce the rules. Gelber’s proposal will be to raise the practice from a civil offense to a misdemeanor. If convicted for the first offense, there could be a fine of $1,000. For a second offense the fine would be raised to $3,000 and for a third offense a homeowner could face imprisonment with a maximum of 60 days in jail.
The sting in the tail is that each day that a property is rented out would be considered a separate offense. That would mean that someone who took payment for letting their room out for a long weekend could theoretically be charged with 3 separate offenses and if convicted, end up in the slammer for up to 2 months.
The situation is hotly contested at present and a city decision earlier this year to impose huge fines of up to $100,000 on unlicensed rental owners has already been quashed following a lawsuit filed by Natalie Nicolls, who argued that the fines were unconstitutional.
Of course, not everyone knows the rules, but if you do intend posting a room or two on Airbnb it may be a good idea to keep abreast of the unfolding situation or apply for a license. If you are approached by a Miami law enforcement agency do not admit fault but remain silent under your Miranda Rights and ask for a defense attorney. Renowned Miami defense attorney, Albert Quirantes Esq. will help you to defend any charge against you and ensure you are not penalized for breaching a law you didn’t know existed. You can contact the Law Firm of Albert Quirantes at 305-644-1800.
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