Update: One of the property owners billed by the city tells New Times his tenants are the ones listing his home on Airbnb.
Miami Beach hasn't been shy about levying some of the nation's highest fines against short-term-rental hosts. In the past year, the city has doled out more than $5 million in fines to home-sharing sites such as Airbnb and local residents who use them to rent out their homes.
But actually collecting the money, it turns out, isn't so easy. By the end of this month, Miami Beach had reeled in only $111,000, city records show. That's about 2 percent of all of those fines.
The city's fines — $20,000 for each illegal short-term-rental listing — have plunged Miami Beach and Airbnb into an all-out battle, complete with a Facebook rant from Mayor Philip Levine, dueling advertisements, and mudslinging on both sides.
Airbnb last week ran a TV ad telling viewers to contact Levine and ask him why he's against middle-class families. The mayor fired back with personally funded ads carried by boat and plane that accused the home-sharing company of cozying up to lawmakers in Tallahassee.
Zoning regulations make short-term rentals illegal almost anywhere in Miami Beach, except along parts of Harding and Collins Avenues. City officials argue that additional rentals hurt the quality of life in the city's neighborhoods, while home-sharing companies and their proponents say they support the local economy and help local residents make ends meet.
Since March 2016, Miami Beach has handed out 184 fines, including $320,000 to Airbnb. Some individual hosts have racked up hundreds of thousands in fees: Records show someone named Temitope Odalapo has been billed $420,000, and another homeowner, Andrew Grewal, has been fined $400,000.
The city has collected nine payments so far, including $20,000 from Airbnb and $5,000 from HomeAway, another home-sharing business. Euroamerican Group Inc. has paid the most: $40,000 for a listing on Venetian Way.
Officials plan to spend the first $200,000 collected on homeless services. After that, they say, they'll put 80 percent of the money collected toward affordable housing and 20 percent toward helping the homeless.
Update, 4:30 p.m.: Andrew Grewal tells New Times it's his tenants who listed his property on Airbnb. He says he's working with them and the city to resolve the fines.
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