Update on Short Term Vacation Rental Registrations

By Christopher J. Russo, Former City Manager

(Thursday, January 24, 2019) – When we would think about vacations or time away from home, it used to be about getting settled into a hotel room or maybe a relative’s beach house if budget was tight. Nowadays, the game plan is completely different. Some years ago, a couple of friends sharing a house in San Francisco saw an opportunity renting airbeds in their house to be able to pay their rent; that’s how “Airbnb” was born. Let’s fast forward to 2019 and we have a 25 billion dollar industry that has spread worldwide.

As you may know, our City gets its share of this new industry; the Airbnbs, or short-term vacation rentals, because we are a very attractive place to live and visit. This phenomenon in Sunny Isles Beach is not unlike other places in South Florida and many other highly sought after destinations. We started to notice an increase in rental activities and received sporadic feedback and complaints around the City. In 2009 we implemented an ordinance to protect the single-family residential areas by limiting the number of times a home could be rented. At that time, the City trusted that condominium associations would regulate themselves regarding this type of activity and therefore did not include language in the ordinance to target condominium and apartment units.

However, by 2017 the situation started to become problematic at certain buildings. The City recognized it had to take action by regulating the rental activities of condominium units to maintain the quality of life our residents had come to value. By 2018, the City learned that approximately 2,000 residential condominium units were actively being advertised as short-term vacation rentals. These condominium short-term rental regulations were not easy to implement since the State of Florida had already superseded local City authority and left us with fewer options to approach the situation. The revised ordinance of 2018 (Ordinance 2018- 522) requires that any condominium unit wanting to rent for six months or less must register with the City of Sunny Isles Beach. This registration requires the approval of the Condominium Association, and registration with the Florida Department of Revenue and Miami-Dade County Tax Collector. In addition, liability insurance and basic safety requirements such as fire extinguishers and smoke detectors are needed to complete the City’s registration process.

As of this month, we have received almost 600 registrations and we are working with external companies to identify all units in the City that actively rent for short-term. You can get information about short-term rentals and register online at sibfl.net/short-term-rentals or you can call 305.792.1740 for more details about the process. Remember, if you decide to run a short-term rental from your property, you are basically starting a business! Then, there are several aspects that could affect the way you use your property. Besides registration, the implementation of the ordinance also contains an enforcement component that continuously evaluates the compliance rates of this program. If you have a complaint about short-term rental activities, you can submit it online at sibfl.net/codecomplaints or call at 305.792.1760. The City constantly implements tools and techniques for the safety and welfare of all its residents and visitors. In this case, these regulations require residential property owners to conduct their short-term vacation rentals in an orderly and safe manner. I hope that you proactively register your property with the City before embarking on the short-term rental market so that you remain compliant with our code and so your guests can safely enjoy their stay in our City.