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Miami-Dade Says Airbnb Hosts Should Make Sure Tenants Aren't Sex Offenders

Miami-Dade Says Airbnb Hosts Should Make Sure Tenants Aren't Sex Offenders
Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Renting out your house on Airbnb is a good way to make some extra money, but it can also be a real pain in the ass. Your tenants might be deranged meth heads, but even if they aren't, your neighbors will probably still complain that the guests' rolling suitcases are too noisy. And in certain parts of Miami, you could be fined up to $20,000 just for listing your place.

Now there's one more thing you have to worry about: sex offenders.

Under new regulations proposed by Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman, Airbnb hosts within 2,500 feet of a school would be required to do a background check on all tenants to make sure they're not sex offenders. Any guests who are flagged after a search would be barred from staying longer than three days per month, effectively preempting sexual predators from using Airbnb properties as a short-term lease.

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Heyman says that although state law has guidelines for how close sex offenders can live and work near schools, the statutes are still fuzzy for vacation rental properties, which are increasingly being used as short-term housing. The proposed ordinance underwent a first reading Tuesday and will head to a public hearing June 15.

Airbnb says it already performs background checks on hosts and guests, although the company admits the searches aren't perfect and can't always be relied upon. The company says it removes users who have been convicted of violent crimes, certain sexual offenses, felony drug charges, and some crimes involving theft or property damage.

As currently written, the proposed ordinance states property owners could call the county's 311 hotline for help determining whether a prospective guest is on sex offender registries, although Heyman says it's still unclear how the rules would apply to foreign guests. Though not yet set in stone, the draft regulations say homeowners who ignore or violate the policy could be fined $100 for a first offense.

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