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60 Days in Jail for Being an Airbnb Host? Miami Beach Mayor Wants City to Consider It.

On Wednesday, the city council will consider the mayor's proposal to make Airbnb rentals without city permission a misdemeanor.

Mario Houben/ZUMA Press/NewscomMario Houben/ZUMA Press/NewscomIn Miami Beach, Florida, homeowners could face jail time for hosting short-term rentals on platforms like Airbnb.

At least, they will if Mayor Dan Gelber gets his way. Today the Miami Beach City Council will consider, at Gelber's request, an ordinance to reclassify unlawful short-term rentals as a misdemeanor, up from a civil fine, Miami New Times reports. Under current law, renting a home or apartment for less than six months without special permission from the city can result in a fine of up to $1,000 for homeowners. If Airbnb rentals are reclassified as misdemeanor offenses, hosts could be facing 60 days in jail.

Under the original version of the proposed ordinance, even first-time offenders could have faced jail time. But after New Times reported on the proposal Tuesday, Gelber's office revised it to include fines of $1,000 for the first offense and $3,000 for the second. Two months in prison would not be on the table until a third violation of the city's rules, but each day would count as a separate offense. In other words, letting someone rent your home or apartment for a long weekend would be risking two months in the slammer.

Short-term rentals are banned in nearly all residential parts of the city, with a few narrow exceptions, so there is no possible way for many residents to lawfully rent their homes for less than six months.

The heavy-handed punishments are necessary, Gelber's proposal says, because residents "continue to engage in or conduct business without a business tax receipt as required by the city in spite of existing civil penalties."

Yes, people continue to do as they please with their own property, and Gelber just doesn't seem able to abide that. Miami Beach's aggressive policing of short-term rentals has made headlines for years. In 2016, the city started imposing $20,000 fines for unauthorized short-term rentals—a penalty that one city councilman has described as "grossly disproportional" to the offense. As of last year, the city had issued more than $6.5 million in fines, but had collected only about $125,000.

Miami Beach now also faces at least one lawsuit over that policy, with longtime resident Natalie Nichols suing the city on the grounds that the Florida Constitution prohibits excessive fines.

The huge fines and restrictions on where short-term rentals can take place are bad enough, says Christina Sandefur, a vice president with the Goldwater Institute, which is representing Nichols in her lawsuit against the city. But with the new proposal, "the city literally wants to turn people who rent their homes into outlaws," Sandefur says. "Miami Beach should stop punishing responsible home-sharers and instead use its resources to go after actual crimes."

Photo Credit: Mario Houben/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • Juice||

    And yet, he'll be reelected.

  • BYODB||

    This is what happens when you let people that don't own property vote.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Anyone in office needs to be voted out. Every time.

  • Horny Lizard||

    And given over to their political enemies for some sort of torture that doesn't kill or permanently disfigure.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    doesn't kill or permanently disfigure

    Ruin my fun...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The heavy-handed punishments are necessary, Gelber's proposal says, because residents "continue to engage in or conduct business without a business tax receipt as required by the city in spite of existing civil penalties."

    Are you okay with letting these people steal the city's hard earned money?

  • Red Tony||

    Yes.

  • Red Tony||

    Yes.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Does he realize these people can't keep generating those civil penalties if they are in jail?

  • Juice||

    It's not about the fines. It's protectionism for hotels, whose guests pay exorbitant hotel taxes.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Also, keeping it the riff raff

  • Sevo||

    You bet!

  • Rockabilly||

    Comrade Gelber is only looking out for you.

    60 days is a generous amount of time to spend in the gaol.

  • croaker||

    Anyone knows where he lives? Parking a woodchipper on his front lawn with his effigy in the hopper should send the right message.

  • Red Tony||

    Why not send in the FBI to do a sex trafficking sting on him?

    They would send the right massage.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    massage received.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Now there is a story with a happy ending.

  • Midnightrider||

    Forget the effigy, put him in it.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    100% unconstitutional.

    There is nothing in the Florida State Constitution that allows jailing persons for simply renting out their property.

  • sarcasmic||

    They won't be jailed for renting their property. They're totally allowed to rent out their property. The ones who will be jailed are the illegal renters. The ones who don't have a permission slip from the government. I say deport the fuckers. After all, they're illegal.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Clearly, the contracts need to change to renting out the shower/towel service, with a complimentary cot if the visitor chooses. Isn't that how Uber does it?

  • jcw||

    Are you saying that in your opinion every state crime needs to be outlined in the state's constitution? Are you sure about that?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You cannot make a criminal law based on behavior that is not illegal in the Constitution.

    The state and US Constitutions do not provide for property rights to be made illegal. You cannot make it a crime to sit on your property, rent your property, invite people onto your property, dig on your property...

    That is what people are talking about when they mention that certain laws are unconstitutional. The relevant constitution never gave the particular government authority to criminalize the specific action.

    Its why the Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional. There is no authority for the federal government to ban any product or service. Zero. The federal government can regulate products and services that fall under the Commerce Clause. Regulate is not banning.

  • Rossami||

    re: "You cannot make a criminal law based on behavior that is not illegal in the Constitution."

    Sure you can - at the state (or lower) level. The Federal Government is limited by the US Constitution, a document written on the principle of enumerated powers. That is, the Feds can do what the Constitution allows and no more.

    States, on the other hand, have what are called general police powers. States can make anything they want illegal as long as they don't cross an enumerated boundary in their specific state constitution (or cross a boundary incorporated from the US Constitution). That's why, for example, states can make zoning laws but the feds cannot.

    Note: Municipalities do not have any legal authority separate from the state. They can do whatever the state delegates to them. But unless the state has specifically limited their authority, that generally means that municipalities also possess general police powers.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    It is a crime to dig on your property workout calling 811 to have the yard marked.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sorry should have added "...in the state and US Constitutions" at the end of that sentence.

    The 14th Amendment does create a minimum standard for all states in the way of protected rights.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Police powers do NOT mean anything can be banned.

    For the Founders, regulation was seen as a necessary evil but is to be kept to a minimum.

    Drugs were not banned. Prostitution was not banned. Alcohol was not banned. Renting your property was not banned.

  • sarcasmic||

    lc doesn't state opinions. He states facts. If you disagree then you're a lefty anarchist.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Well, Sarcasmic is an Anarchist and doesnt contribute anything worthwhile here.

    Some might even call him a troll.

    We also have Lefties here.

  • sarcasmic||

    Oh, look. Retard still doesn't know that different words mean different things. Tell me, Retard, does hierarchy mean anarchy? Does oligarchy mean anarchy? Does monarchy mean anarchy? Does patriarchy mean anarchy? Well, Ree-Ree? If the answer to those is no, then why does minarchy mean anarchy? Oh, I know. Because you're a retard.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Oh goober. You are way too drunk this early in the morning.

  • sarcasmic||

    Oh, Retard. You're too stupid to understand that different words mean different things. You must have failed your Greek roots class if you ever took one. You probably think Greek roots is a kind of yogurt. Retarded retard.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Dum dum, just because you smack two words together or take a word and add a prefix or suffix, does not a commonly used word mean.

    Nobody cares to call Anarchists anything but Anarchists. Most of you people hide what you are and undermine the Constitution at every turn.

    I shall you MinSantorum.

  • sarcasmic||

    Dum dum, just because you smack two words together or take a word and add a prefix or suffix, does not a commonly used word mean.

    You're moving the goalposts by saying it must be commonly used? Hmm. 211,000 Google results disagree with you there.

    I shall you MinSantorum.

    And I shall call you Merrill.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    All 211,000 of those Google searches are YOU and your Anarchist friends.

    You're a goober and copycat. With my slam, you know exactly what I meant by it. You posted a video, that I would never open since you are untrustworthy to open unknown links.

    Makes sense, since you're pretty unoriginal.

    You people are like the Socialists calling themselves progressives/liberals/Democrats to hide fro the bad stigma of Socialism.

    You're trying to hide from the stigma of Anarchism.

  • Cyto||

    "lc doesn't state opinions. He states facts. If you disagree then you're a lefty anarchist."

    In other words.... typical libertarian?

    (in fairness to us libertarians, you could make the same joke about any political group. The left is really fond of using circular missives like "reality has a liberal bias")

  • sarcasmic||

    I find that the typical libertarian is still capable of a rational conversation without sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting like a child. Which is exactly what lc does.

  • Nardz||

    Pot, meet kettle

  • sarcasmic||

    Tell me, do you understand that different words mean different things? If so then perhaps we could have a rational conversation sometime. But if you're a retard like lc, that just won't be possible. Is Greek roots something to do with language or something you find in the dairy aisle? lc thinks it's on sale for a buck twenty nine.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sarcasmic for la-la-la-la-la

    Sarcasmic demands that when he makes up a word, EVERYONE HAS TO USE IT!

  • sarcasmic||

    Sarcasmic demands that when he makes up a word, EVERYONE HAS TO USE IT!

    According to google, some guy named Edward Konkin III (who died in 2004) coined the term "minarchist."

    You really should try this thing called a search engine, Merrill.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Boy, you sure do get so mad at me for calling attention to your utter ridiculousness.

    Have another drink goober.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Under current law, renting a home or apartment for less than six months without special permission from the city can result in a fine of up to $1,000 for homeowners. If Airbnb rentals are reclassified as misdemeanor offenses, hosts could be facing 60 days in jail.

    Nice Apples and Oranges argument.

    You are sad, angry man.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    "There is nothing in the Florida State Constitution that allows jailing persons for simply renting out their property"

    Does the State Constitution permit legislative activities to municipalities? Does it mention licensing for hair braiders? Does it limit a person to 3.5 ounces of liquids when boarding a plane in Miami?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Since licensing of hair braiding is not relating to property, its apple and oranges.

    But on the topic of hair braiding, states can regulate business and the extent of state power to regulate would depend on the relevant state constitution.

    Liquids on a plane is an area regulated by Congress, since airline travel is clearly interstate commerce. They are not banning liquids, they are limiting the size for obvious reasons. (Bonus points if you know the reason for limiting size of liquids). Congress gave that power to the President and TSA. TSA limits size of liquids.

  • Cyto||

    Except the ban is on container size, not amount of liquid.

    Why this is frustrating: A bottle of cologne with maybe a quarter-ounce left will get flagged and you can't bring it on board if the container is larger than the limit, even by 0.1 ounces - even though it is clearly an almost empty container. (yes, that was pretty frustrating to learn) The same goes for a tube of toothpaste that is almost empty and is rolled up into a tight roll of flat tube. (much less frustrating to toss that one)

  • Jerry B.||

    And I bet that this will result in a big campaign contribution from the hotel/motel industry in Miami.

  • Longtobefree||

    The donations will continue, yes.

  • Cyto||

    Miami is the perfect location for this kind of action.

    In the housing boom of the late aughts, there were some 50k condo units coming online every month at the peak. I think there were some 150k units on the market at the nadir.

    Even now that things have recovered there are loads and loads of condominiums that are unoccupied a lot of the time. A good chunk of the recovery has been powered by foreigners buying up vacation units - lots of South Americans in particular.

    So there are a ton of units that are only periodically occupied. Those are perfect for renting.

    Simultaneously, the city makes its money from collecting taxes from tourists. So the hotel lobby has a lot of clout - since they pay a huge hunk of the freight.

  • Longtobefree||

    Which tourist generates the most income for the city; the one in a $50.00/night airbnb home, or the one that is not renting an empty $350.00/night hotel room?

  • Dillinger||

    Hotel Lobby in the hotel lobby, pleased by Mayor Gelber.

  • Sevo||

    I'll bet the SEIU has a place at the table, also.

  • Dillinger||

    should figure a way into airbnb service and play both sides

  • Longtobefree||

    You don't own that - - - - - -

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Can someone impersonating a lawyer answer this -

    Suppose you created a company (on paper), and then "rented" your home to the company for a 6-month stretch. If the company (which is controlled by you), chose to apportion part of that time to other renters, would this defeat the proposed law?

  • PavePusher||

    Nice City Hall they have there. Be a real shame if it... burned down....

  • Liberty Felix||

    Trade this restraint~!

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