Reinstate the Right to Short-Term Rent Property on Miami Beach.

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Vacation rentals, home sharing, and short-term rentals have been an important part of Miami Beach's housing and economy for many decades. In 2010, without much discussion of the ways to resolve issues surrounding the increase in vacation rentals, the City of Miami Beach stripped property owners of the right to rent out properties short term, defined as less than 6 months and a day. Due to this law many property owners one of the areas hardest hit by recession in the country, lost their homes and their investments to foreclosure and short sales, when short-term rentals could have saved them. Many owners are still struggling with paying for their home expenses with this loss of income.

It has been said that short term rentals change the character of the neighborhood. In the case of Miami Beach, banning short term rentals is changing the nature of single family home neighborhoods. In this tourist town, less than 20% of residential owners are homesteaded. The street I bought on had more than 7 people who owned 2-5 homes (some for 45 years) and rented out the ones they were not living in. People who lived elsewhere rented their homes when they were away. The inability to do that is forcing people to sell and buy elsewhere. Please reinstate the right to rent our homes in Miami Beach! 

The right to home share and short term rent properties in Miami Beach will: 

Build and Improve Neighborhoods. 

Vacation rental owners take better care of their properties. They are generally better maintained, as owners can afford to maintain and even improve them with the extra income.

Stimulate the Economy.

Vacationers who are able to save money on accommodations are more likely to stay longer and spend more money in the area. A study by Walt Disney found that these tourist spend 3 - 5 times as much in retail and restaurants as tourists staying in hotels.

Create Tax Revenue.

Collection resort tax and sales tax on these rentals produce funds for the local government and the state. Don't forget that properties doing short term rentals are not homestead tax exempt, and often pay at least twice as much as a similar home bought before 2013, and it can increase 10% a year, not just 3%. Imagine if 80% of our properties were homesteaded since 2009 instead of only 20%. Imagine the property tax shortage. 

Provide Choice.

Visitors who would rent a residence may not consider a hotel. For both hosts and guests, the residential vacation rental experience is unique and can't be replicated by stays in hotels or condos. Vacation rentals provide families the opportunity to stay under one roof and enjoy the comforts of home while enjoying Miami Beach. Banning short term rentals excludes and entire category of visitors who would be likely to go elsewhere if they can not find a vacation rental here. 

Adapt to changing housing and tourism models. There is an inventory shortage, and the way people rent is changing; some people want a ready to go, furnished home with all utilities in place. There is a definite demand for furnished, flexible affordable housing that is not being met in Miami Beach. The city is not acknowledging that there are new disruptive housing vehicles that bring in a new type of tenant and tourist, and from the from the consumers point of view the government is restricting choice.

Adapt to disruptive housing and tourism technology (IE: AIRBNB and VRBO).

Fighting a disruptive industry and fighting technology is a battle no-one can win. Instead, we are just missing out on an opportunity and revenue, and it is flowing into other cities. It hurts our community. There is a restriction on choice and it is not productive. Its preventing people from being able to participate in the economy of Miami Beach, almost as if they are being discriminated against.  It's not fair to say "You have to be a full-time renter or homeowner to stay here." People who can't come up with the down payment need a place to stay, often monthly,  and we are preventing that.

We are a tourist town and we are sending tourism elsewhere for people who want a home sharing  or vacation rental experience. Home sharing has not stopped, people have just decided to go to Miami, Brickell, or Wynwood or another country where they allow it. Miami Beach has just lost that traffic. 

Attract Investors

Studies also show Foreign investors prefer single family homes and generally rent a few times before buying to get a feel for the area. That is not possible at all anymore in Miami Beaches waterfront homes for those unwilling to break the law.

Investors, particularly foreign investors, want somewhere safe to put their money where it will grow. A vacation rental is an obvious choice. They can vacation here a few months, get monthly income when not using the property, and hopefully enjoy some appreciation.   When property rights are taken or restricted investors no longer look at Miami Beach Real Estate as a safe investment. They are no longer investing in Miami Beach and our property values are suffering.

It is not good for free enterprise when you have instability in the government and the rules change. People are afraid to start a business in Miami Beach,  where they can have their rights stripped away from them, which has happened in various ways, but the short term rental ban was the worst.  It completely stopped peoples flow of revenue overnight, directly causing short sales and foreclosures. The law is unconstitutional, and the state legislature has pretty much said that by restricting other cities from passing such a law which they did in 2011, but Miami Beach was grandfathered in. 

Protect “Mom and Pops,” small businesses and homeowners

Excessive fines hurt people and we lose "Mom and Pop" bed and breakfasts. The fine for this (just trying to run a business, offer housing, and  employ people)  is excessive - $20,000 for a first offense and then double for additional offenses. The fine is also unconstitutional as an "excessive fine" and the Special Master is not at liberty to reduce the fine. People who are just renting a studio for a weekend to make ends meet have ended up crying the the Special Master about a $20,000.00 fine and losing hard earned savings or filing bankruptcy.   It is  time we changed this unconstitutional law in Miami Beach, before more people are denied housing and more people are foreclosed on, forced to sell, or lose their life savings.  

Reduce Discriminatory Practices and save the City Law fees

Right now the City of Miami Beach is fighting several lawsuits for unconstitutional practices due to their short term rental laws and the discriminatory way in which they are written and enforced, as well as the excessive $20k fine for renting a room for less than 6 months and a day. The City of Miami Beach has allowed certain properties the right to rent short term and not others, and it has been discriminatory in enforcement of these laws - targeting people who rent to minorities and violating civil rights. While the city fines one owner for an obscure advertisement they did not place, they allow a website for Villazzo to advertise several rental homes on the island, and rent them without fines. Homeowners renting to minorities are much more likely to get cited, regardless of noise or occupancy. 

Allow Code and Law Enforcement to Focus on Other Priorities

Code enforcement resources are better spent on  issues other than finding out how people are related to the owner and how long their lease is, which brings up many civil rights issues. Code could focus on dilapidated, ill maintained buildings and public safety. Law enforcement could address any issues with crime and  disturbing the peace - whether it is a long term tenant, and owner, or a short term renter. These things would make people feel safer. 

Partner with investors, Property Owners, and Property Managers

Partner with the owners and property managers to better control the quality and enforce the rules of the vacation rentals. Parties can be eliminate or controlled by maximum occupancy limits, which could swiftly be enforced without having to determine how long someone's lease is. Investors, homeowners, and property managers would welcome the opportunity to partner with police to better manage their properties and eliminate noise disturbances. Right now if they reach out to law enforcement because a group has exceeded allowed occupancy and will not reduce it, they are just fined $20,000.00. 

Miami Beach relies on the tourist economy, a big part of which expects residential home accommodations as an option. Sign this petition and tell Mayor Gelber and the City Commission to give visitors the choices they want, owners the freedom to use their properties, and our neighborhoods a chance for improvement by authorizing reasonably regulated short term rentals. 

Please help me restore the right to short term rent in Miami Beach, FL. We really need it. 

Thank you for your time and support. 

Natalie Nichols