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Politics

Miami Judge Issues Restraining Order Against City of Miami Over Short-Term Rental Ban

April 19, 2017 - 7:15pm

Airbnb is declaring victory in its ongoing battle with the City of Miami. On Wednesday, a Miami judge issued a temporary restraining order in the company's lawsuit against the City of Miami for banning renters’ access to the popular homesharing platform.

Judge Beatrice Butchko of Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday evening, prohibiting Miami from enforcing its ban on short-term rentals in the South Florida city. 

Miami has made headlines for its relentless attempts to squeeze out short-term rentals over the last few months, threatening to send code compliance to Airbnb hosts who spoke out at a recent City Commission meeting last month. 

Butchko put the fears of hosts to rest -- as a result of that meeting, she also prohibited the city from requiring residents to provide their names and addresses when speaking at future City Commission hearings. 

Last week, a group of five Airbnb hosts filed a lawsuit in the Miami-Dade County circuit court, alleging the City of Miami was infringing on their First Amendment rights and breaking state law by imposing harsh regulations on vacation rentals in South Florida's largest city. 

Named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Yamille Bell, Ana Rubio, Gary Levin, Toya Bowles and Kenneth Tobin. 

The hosts are mothers, fathers, teachers, doctors, immigrants -- but all share the common goal of hoping to share their city and earn extra cash by renting out their homes to tourists coming to South Florida. 

Airbnb threw its weight behind the hosts and joined in the suit as well.

The lawsuit came on the heels of an ongoing battle between the home-sharing platform and the City of Miami, which is largely opposed to allowing its residents to rent out their homes. Mayor Regalado and Airbnb opponents say the platform causes noise problems and infringes on residents’ way of life.

Last month, a group of Miami property owners renting their homes out on Airbnb showed up at Miami City Hall, begging Mayor Tomás Regalado to reject a measure declaring their businesses an illegal nuisance.

According to the Miami Herald, Airbnb hosts pleaded with the mayor and city commissioners at the meeting, imploring them to end the war with Airbnb and give the hosts a fair shake.

But instead of reasoning with the hosts, the Miami City Commission voted 3-2 to declare Airbnb an “illegal nuisance,” effectively outlawing the vacation rental site altogether. 

To make matters worse for residents, the commission then told the hosts who gave their names and addresses on the record they had outed themselves to code compliance, which means the city plans to come after them to hit them with a bevy of fines, all for renting out their homes on Airbnb.

Miami isn’t the only city in Florida cracking down on vacation rentals. In Miami Beach, Mayor Philip Levine has jacked up fines for illegal renters from $500 all the way to $20,000 -- and if he can swing it, he’s aiming to make that figure even higher.

In March, the two mayors teamed up for an anti-Airbnb press conference where they doubled down on their intentions to take a no holds barred approach towards dealing with the homesharing company, whose users pumped $253 million into the city last year alone.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has struck a deal with the company, agreeing on a tentative 6 percent county bed tax for Airbnb, which would pump around $8 million into the county annually.

Now, it appears the law is on Airbnb’s side, possibly putting a stop to attempts to squash out short-term rentals in Miami.

Airbnb said the ruling was a small win for the company and its hosts alike.

"On behalf of our Miami host community, we are grateful to the Court for giving this important matter immediate attention,” Airbnb said in a statement. “We are hopeful that it will result in relief and fair treatment for the 3,000 Miamians who responsibly share their homes on Airbnb."

Sunshine State News contacted Mayor Regalado’s office for comment but had not received a response at the time of this article’s release. 

 
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
 
 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen

 

Comments

An off-topic question here. Won't Airbnb landlords lose their homestead exemption when they use their homes for commercial purposes?

An off-topic answer here. IF they do,...then isn't REVOLUTION in order ?!?!?

Hooray for the judge!!! She made the right call. I don't know what the big deal is with renting through Airbnb. The complainers should be more concerned with the illegals and Illegal Muslims infiltrating their neighborhoods instead of individuals that pay decent money for a place to stay. It the riff raff's that are loud, destroy property and bring disease along with them into the neighborhoods not people that shop for deals, and have the money to spend for bargain home/room rentals. My friend rents on Airbnb, I've met many of her clients from Europe who are quality individuals. BTW they all are vetted first. Perhaps an idea that should be incorporated into our immigration plan....

Judge Butchko is an ignoramus who is obviously against 'home rule'. The thought that she would allow air bob to load up some rentals with partyers to break up decent neighbors with all the noise and disturbances caused by non-residential vacationers is shameful. Judge Butchco has lost her credibility, not only as a judge but also a neighbor, and should be withdrawn from her seat.

do you really think that each time a citizen has a complaint against a commission, and speaks the complaint publicly, that the heavy hand of government should be able to track them down and abuse them? READ Judge Butchko "also put the fears of hosts to rest -- as a result of that meeting, she also prohibited the city from requiring residents to provide their names and addresses when speaking at future City Commission hearings." To me, the potential for the abuse of government is the most onerous part of this debate. Judge Butchko did the right thing. That's first amendment stuff.

Well waddayano,... Da Judge exercises common sense..... Unlike the likes of Mayor $Fillup$ Levine in Miami Beach...and his ilk in Miami... THANKS Judge Butchko; admirable and refreshing,.. impartiality and common sense go "hand in hand", right where they belong!!!

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