Property Rights Posted on June 29, 2017 | Op-Ed

Proposed regulation of vacation rentals in Miami Dade County

Esteban L. Bova, Jr., Chairman

Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners

111 NW 1st Street, Suite 20

Miami, Florida 33128

 

Re: Proposed regulation of vacation rentals in Miami-Dade County

 

Dear Mr. Bova:

I am writing on behalf of the Goldwater Institute, a nonprofit organization that works in courtrooms and legislatures nationwide to protect private property rights, to express concerns regarding the Economic Development & Tourism Committee's proposed ordinance relating to vacation rentals, which was forwarded to the Board after the Committee's meeting on June 15, 2017.

The restriction of the right of property owners to allow guests in their homes for money is a distressing and unnecessary intrusion on the fundamental private property rights of Miami­-Dade County citizens. To the degree that County residents are concerned about the possibility of noise, traffic, or trash in their neighborhoods, such concerns are already addressed by existing ordinances that prevent such nuisances. To impose broader restrictions than that is overkill: after all, we do not forbid people from holding backyard  barbeques just because sometimes people get rowdy. Instead, local governments enforce targeted rules that prohibit disruptive behavior without intruding on the rights of responsible homeowners.

It should be stressed that home-sharing is a residential use of property- and a longstanding tradition, both in Miami-Dade County and in the country at large. People have, for centuries, allowed guests to stay in their homes in exchange for money or for doing chores or for other types of compensation - and in a county where the tourism in dustry dominates, it' s particularly relevant. Many southern Florida communities are almost entirely visitor­ communities. And there's nothing wrong with that. So long as people obey appropriate noise regulations and prohibitions on other nuisances, it doesn't matter if they're staying in a home as  a guest for free, or if they're paying the owner; if they're staying for one night or six months .

What's more, home-sharing is an economic boon to local communities. For example, in 2016, Airbnb rentals generated $480 million in economic output from guests who booked rentals in the City of Miami alone. That translates to an average income of $6,900 per host in the City of Miami. Homeowners who share their homes with guests use that extra rental income to enrich their lives and communities in a variety of ways: twenty-one percent of hosts in Florida use their rental income to pay for their child's education, seventy percent improve their homes and properties, and eleven percent save for retirement.

Miami-Dade County also benefits from the significant economic impact of home-sharing. In the last 12 months, Miami-Dade County welcomed 536,000 guests who used Airbnb. Additionally, in May 2017 alone, Airbnb collected and remitted an estimated $522,000 in county-administered taxes in Miami-Dade County. These numbers only represent a portion of the economic impact-they do not include rentals on other home-sharing platforms such as HomeAway or Flipkey, nor do they include benefits to local businesses or community improvements.

In addition, we urge you to be mindful of Fla. Stat. § 509 .032(7)(b), which preempts local ordinances that regulate the duration and frequency of vacation rentals. We believe the proposed ordinance, if adopted, would violate Fla. Stat. § 509.032(7)(b) and be preempted by state law.

Not only does that law prohibit county governments from limiting the duration and frequency of rentals directly, but it also forbids local governments from imposing restrictions that, in practice, accomplish the same end. The proposed ordinance would effectively regulate the duration and frequency of such rentals, by imposing costly and burdensome requirements on people who allow guests in their home for periods of less than 30 days at a time - thereby effectively regulating the duration of a rental in violation of Fla. Stat.§ 509.0932(7)(b). Earlier this year, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court expressed a similar view. It ruled that the City of Miami's vacation rental regulations were preempted by state law, and issued an injunction to block Miami from enforcing such regulations. See Airbnb, Inc. v. City of Miami, 2017-008999- CA-01.

Of course, since the proposed ordinance is not an amendment to any county ordinance that was in effect before June 1, 2011, the proposed ordinance also does not fall within the scope of the grandfather clause in Fla. Stat. § 509.032(7)(b).

Again, there's no reason to adopt a blanket, one-size-fits-all restriction on home-sharing that doesn't target the legitimate concerns of residents. Instead, Florida's local governments should address those concerns directly, and not punish the innocent many for the possible future wrongs of a few.

Thank you for your thoughtful attention to this important matter.

Christina Sandefur

Executive Vice President

Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation at the Goldwater Institute

cc:  Audrey M. Edmonson (Vice Chairwoman)

      Carlos A. Gimenez (Mayor)

      Jack Osterholt (Deputy Mayor, Regulatory and Economic Resources)

      Sally A. Heyman (Co unty Commissioner)

      Barbara J. Jordan (County Commissioner)

      Jean Monestime (County Commissioner)

      Bruno A. Berreiro (County Commissioner)

      Rebeca Sosa (Count y Commissioner)

      Xavier L. Suarez (County Commissioner)

      Daniella Levine Cava (County Commissioner)

      Dennis C. Moss (County Commissioner)

      Javier D. Souto (County Commissioner)

      Joe A. Martinez (County Commissioner)

      Jose "Pepe" Diaz (County Commissioner)

      Abigail Price-Williams (County Attorney)

Author

Christina Sandefur is Executive Vice President at the Goldwater Institute. She also develops policies and litigates cases advancing healthcare freedom, free enterprise, private property rights, free speech, and taxpayer rights. ... Read

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