Short-term rental hearings delayed while Miami Beach appeals court ruling

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Short-term rental hearings delayed while Miami Beach appeals court ruling:

Fines which had been dedicated to the homeless trust will not be released

The ripple effects of the court ruling striking down Miami Beach’s short-term rental laws are beginning to be felt. Special Master Enrique Zamora has continued all short-term rental violation hearings until at least January. “I don’t see the point in having any kind of hearings until we have a resolution,” he said at a recent hearing. "While Zamora said he didn’t have the power to reduce the fines, he suggested attorneys representing clients with STR violations meet with the City attorney to see if an agreement could be reached for him to sign.
 
Citing “hefty (some might say exorbitant) fines," Miami-Dade County Court Judge Michael Hanzman said the City’s ordinances on short-term rentals “are in jarring conflict with [State law] and are therefore illegal and unenforceable.” State law allows fines of $1,000 per day for a first violation and caps them at $5,000 a day for repeat violations. The City’s fines for short-term rental violations start at $20,000 for the first offense and escalate in $20,000 increments up to $100,000 for the fifth and all subsequent violations.
 
The fines had been dedicated to homeless and domestic violence services. This week Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales told Commissioners in a letter that $250,000 approved by them for the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is in limbo. “Considering the court decision and the uncertainty as to the future of these fine collections, the funds will not be released to the Homeless Trust as we revisit the court’s action and its impact to the city,” Morales wrote.
 
Initially, funding for the services was to come from short term rental fines for two years “with additional funds to be allocated for both domestic violence and homeless services starting in FY 2022 from other funding sources,” according to Morales.
 
As of September 30, 2019, the City had collected $593,241 in short-term rental fines of which $278,648 was allocated to homeless services and $314,593 went toward workforce housing initiatives. Unpaid invoices totaled $2,793,000.
 
Meanwhile, the City has appealed Hanzman’s decision to the Third District Court and indicated it would continue to enforce its short-term rental laws

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