Airbnb spokesperson: Miami-Dade County’s short-term rental rules are too restrictive

(WSVN) - With COVID-19 cases surging in South Florida, one county has moved to crack down on pandemic party houses like the ones we have exposed on 7News, but short-term rental companies say the new rules go too far. Tonight, we introduce Karen Hensel with this 7 Investigates.

From big bashes at a waterfront home on Miami’s Belle Meade Island to fast cars racing down a residential street in Coconut Grove and party buses outside this Northeast Miami-Dade mansion, even gunfire signaling the party’s over at a home on Miami Beach.

Neighbor: “Last night was like out of a movie.”

The clubs may be closed, but the coronavirus pandemic has not stopped parties from raging on at rented homes, and neighbors have had enough.

Edward Carrillo, neighbor: “Having a good time is one thing. Making this into a nightclub is completely different. It is not acceptable.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez: “We have seen the images. We know that’s happening, and we needed to stop it.”

And to stop it, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez signed this emergency order just last week tightening restrictions on short-term vacation rentals. No more than 10 people are allowed on a property, and — more significantly — new rental agreements are required to be at least a month long.

Ben Breit, Airbnb: “The vast majority of our hosts do not want parties in their listing.”

Ben Breit is an Airbnb spokesman.

He calls the parties unacceptable but says Miami-Dade’s emergency order banning daily or weekly rentals is too restrictive.

Ben Breit: “We’d love to be able to have a conversation, and we’d love for our own hosts to be able to have a seat at the table as well.”

Karen Hensel: “Have you had any communication at all with Miami-Dade County about all of this one-on-one?”

Ben Breit: “Not to my knowledge.”

Before the emergency order was signed, a trade group representing rental companies like Airbnb sent the mayor a letter saying “we urge you to reconsider” banning short-term rentals, calling them “ideal for social distancing” and an “affordable, much-needed choice” as an alternative to hotels.

Airbnb says it recently put restrictions on its site to stop some under the age of 25 from booking homes close to where they live.

Ben Breit: “We literally are blocking those reservations, so it’s a very aggressive step to try to stop unauthorized parties because we all acknowledge that they’re just not acceptable.”

Mayor Carlos Gimenez: “They say, yeah they try, they try, but it’s not happening man.”

We asked the mayor about Airbnb’s position that the new measures are too restrictive.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez: “Airbnb only has Airbnb to blame for this problem. We have talked and said over and over again this party home situation was a problem, not only for this pandemic, but for the basic disruption of neighborhoods.”

In Broward County, the emergency order also limits the number of guests in vacation rentals to no more than 10 people, but unlike in Miami-Dade, it does not include restrictions on the length of the bookings.

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