Palm Beach Post: Alcohol, Drugs, Stripper Poles: House Party for Boca-Area Students Thwarted

The party was over before it even started for a group of high-school students who planned to throw an alcohol- and drug-fueled bash at a Palm City Airbnb, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies found the three-story rental home, on Southwest Grass Trail near Florida’s Turnpike, stocked with alcohol ‘comparable to any bar here in Martin County,’ Martin County Lt. Ryan Grimsdale said. The students had also filled a bowl with pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes and even set up stripper poles for a ‘bikini contest.’ At least 300 students were expected at the party, which was rented by a student through Airbnb. They planned to charter three buses to make the trip from Boca Raton to Palm City on prom night. (Read More)

WIRED: Inside Airbnb’s ‘Guerrilla War’ Against Local Governments

“Read my lips: We want to pay taxes,” Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s global head of public policy, told the nation’s mayors in 2016. In the years since, the home-sharing site has repeated the declaration in press releases, op-eds, emails, and on billboards. On its website, Airbnb says it is ‘democratizing revenue by generating tens of millions of new tax dollars for governments all over the world.’ But when Palm Beach County, Florida, a popular tourist destination, passed an ordinance in October 2018 requiring Airbnb and other short-term rental companies to collect and pay the county’s 6 percent occupancy tax on visits arranged through their sites, Airbnb sued. (Read More)

The Atlantic: Airbnb Has a Hidden-Camera Problem

When Max Vest shook hands with the host of his Miami Airbnb back in January, the man introduced himself as Ralph—even though “Ray” was the name he’d used in all their prior communication. This was the first and only indication that something was wrong. But his host had a great rating on the home-sharing site, and many of the comments mentioned how friendly and accommodating he was. So Vest, a children’s-camp director from Gainesville, Florida, didn’t think much of the discrepancy and settled into the two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment he’d be sharing with Ralph—or was it Ray?—and his girlfriend for the next five days. At about 8 or 9 p.m., he went out for dinner; by the time he got home, his hosts had gone to bed in the room adjacent to his, and he prepared to do the same. That was when he saw the light. Two small, black, rectangular boxes were stacked next to an outlet on the far side of the guest room, both facing the bed. From afar, they looked like phone chargers. But when Vest got closer, he realized they were cameras, and they were recording. (Read More)

Florida Politics: New Poll Shows Floridians Strongly Support Local Control of Short-Term Rentals

A new poll found Florida voters want local governments to have the final say in short-term rental regulations. The St. Pete Polls survey asked 1,400 registered voters whether they wanted the state or local government in charge of rulemaking for vacation rentals. The pollster phrased the question in two different ways. The first asked whether voters wanted one set of rules for all neighborhoods across Florida or if local communities should be able to set their own. Faced with that question, seven in 10 voters said local rules should trump all. Another 21 percent said they preferred a statewide system while 9 percent were undecided. (Read More)

Miami Herald: Huge Fines, Midnight Busts: Inside Miami Beach’s War on Short-Term Rentals

In apartment 9A of a two-story 1920s Miami Beach building, a sunburned couple from Charlotte was staying the weekend after booking the apartment on In 6A, three generations of women from Argentina were visiting via In 4B, two young women from Amsterdam were celebrating a 21st birthday; they found the listing on In 9B, a young woman from Colombia insisted she had rented the place from a friend for the long weekend. The apartment building — 1518 Drexel Ave. — is in an area of the city where short-term rentals of six months or less are illegal. Yet two years after the city enacted steep fines to prevent owners from renting apartments to tourists — $20,000 for the first violation, $40,000 for the second, and so on — a thriving short-term rental market persists. (Read More)

New York Times: Airbnb and Miami Beach Are at War. Travelers Are Caught in the Crossfire

Miami Beach and Airbnb are at war. And travelers are caught in the crossfire. In the increasingly heated war between the rental companies and communities, renters like David Igbokwe and his friends, who unwittingly book rooms that are being offered illegally, are the collateral damage. They can end up out on the street, out hundreds of dollars and in need of a new place to stay, sometimes in the middle of the night. (Read More)

NBC News: At an Airbnb? You Might Be on Camera, Whether You Like It or Not

Hidden cameras in Airbnbs, the stuff that vacation nightmares are made of, are feeding a growing sense of consumer paranoia over surveillance. Cameras have been found in fake smoke detectors over a bed. In another case, an Airbnb guest allegedly placed a camera inside his host’s bathroom disguised as a cellphone charger. In New Zealand, a bridal party said it found a camera hidden in a lightbulb. An NBC News review of Airbnb listings in San Francisco found disclosed security cameras in less than 1 percent of rentals. (Read More)

Orlando Sentinel: Opinion – Local Governments Should Regulate Short-Term Rental Property

As the Florida Legislature reviews numerous legislative proposals this session, a key issue impacting Florida’s neighborhoods and homeowners will be proposed legislation to pre-empt the ability of local officials to enact and enforce appropriate regulations on short-term rentals. Similar legislation has been proposed in past years without success, and this year’s proponents have already jumped into the ring with SB 824, which seeks to give lawmakers control over local short-term rental ordinances. This is an issue that continues to increase in relevance as the number of short-term rental properties across Florida keeps growing. This is no longer just an issue facing tourism hot spots like South Beach. (Read More)

Florida Watchdog: Two Bills Seek State Preemption in Regulating Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals – exactly what they are and if the state or local governments should regulate them – will again be a hotly debated topic when the Florida Legislature convenes its 60-day session on March 5. At least three Senate bills related to the state’s $31 billion short-term rental industry have been pre-filed thus far, including two that would give oversight to the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DBPR) Division of Hotels and Restaurants. Sen. David Simmons’, R-Altamonte Springs, Senate Bill 812, and Sen. Manny Diaz’s, R-Hialeah Gardens, SB 234, are both pre-emption bills, limiting local governments’ capacities to impose restrictions on short-term rentals and giving the state that authority. (Read More)

CNBC: How Criminals Use Uber and Airbnb to Launder Money Stolen from Your Credit Card

Cybercriminals are turning to new technologies to launder their ill-gotten gains, including recruiting fake Uber drivers, shady Airbnb hosts and crypto conversion specialists via the underground dark web, experts say. … For at least the past two years, cybercriminals have used increasingly creative methods centered on “gig economy” apps like Uber and Airbnb, according to Mador. The schemes work to filter dirty money through several automated systems, eventually making their way back to the criminal clean. (Read More)

CityLab: The Airbnb Effect: It’s Not Just Rising Home Prices

D.C. is restricting it. Florida might stop investing in it. New Orleans is trying to ban it completely. Across the country, legislators are not happy with Airbnb. Since it was founded in 2008, the short-term rental platform has been the subject of several critical research papers that have blamed it for raising housing prices, changing employment dynamics, and taking chunks out of city tax revenue. A new analysis from the Economic Policy Institute attempts to more comprehensively catalog these local impacts—and measure what, if anything, cities get out of the deal. To better align the costs and benefits, the study’s author Josh Bivens argues, cities need to start treating Airbnb like any other hotel business, and regulate it accordingly. (Read More)

USA TODAY: Deaths at Airbnb Rentals Put Spotlight on Safety and Security

Since debuting in 2008, vacation rental website Airbnb has grown to five million listings in 191 countries. It is in more than 81,000 cities. Over the years, Airbnb has provided travelers with alternatives to hotel rooms, for the most part without incident. But in recent weeks, a couple of deaths have raised questions about the safety of Airbnb rentals. … Could Airbnb have done anything to prevent these deaths? (Read More)

WPEC CBS 12 News: Man Crawls Into Bed with Women Staying in Boynton Beach Airbnb

Two young women are outraged after they say a creepy man crawled into bed with them. They say the man didn’t touch them, but the experience left them flabbergasted and demanding answers. The Airbnb listing the women provided advertises a gated and quiet private room in Boynton Beach for $45 a night, but the women — who are in their twenties — say that didn’t stop his creepy cuddling. (Read More)

WPLG Local 10 News: Undercover Operation Leads Police to Sunny Isles Beach Home

Police from multiple agencies served a search warrant Thursday morning at a home in Sunny Isles Beach. Sunny Isles Beach Police said an undercover operation led authorities to the home on 189th Terrace. At least five people were sitting outside the home. Some of them were handcuffed. Police later said two people were arrested as part of an ongoing fraud investigation. Sources told Local 10 News the property’s owner set up illegal efficiencies inside and rented them on Airbnb. A neighbor said he’s seen “sketchy activity” at the home. (Read More)

Police from multiple agencies served a search warrant Thursday morning at a home in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.

: Twin Cities Softball Team Falls Victim to Fake Rental Home Listing in Florida

A softball team from the east Twin Cities metro is out thousands of dollars and a place to stay after falling victim to a fake online home rental posting in Florida. “We were all just dumbfounded,” said Eric Benedict, the team manager. “We did not know what was going on. It was hard to believe.” For the past four years, the Minnesota Maniax have traveled to Florida to play in a national slow pitch softball tournament, but this year the team’s dream vacation turned into a nightmare.” We had people crying because we felt stranded, stuck a long way from home,” he said. (Read More)

WINK News: Police Bust Underage Party in Rented Naples Home

It looks like your average home in a quiet neighborhood in Naples. But on Saturday, police say renters threw a house party in a home they shouldn’t have been allowed to rent. Naples police busted a house party at an illegal Airbnb rental unit for underage drinking and drugs — with one teen girl getting so drunk, she needed to go to the hospital. (Read More)

The Verge: How Conservative ‘Property Rights’ Groups Are Battling Cities’ Airbnb Rules

Visitors to Miami Beach come to party, Commissioner John Alemán says. They get wasted, they make noise, and, in the eyes of some residents, cause a nuisance. Now, as local governments attempt to regulate Airbnb, the platform is finding allies on the right. Conservative and libertarian think tanks, supported by local Airbnb operators, have filed lawsuits against cities around the country to overturn ordinances on home-sharing. Some have also pushed legislation at the state level to restrict local regulations, and Goldwater has presented model legislation for states that would block cities from passing regulations. (Read More)

Inman: Airbnb Will Rapidly Expand Line of Co-Branded Apartment Buildings: Report

Airbnb and its partner Niido, a brand from the Florida-based development company Newgard, could open as many as 14 co-branded apartment complexes geared toward tenants who want to sublet their units as short-term rentals, according to a report in Bloomberg. The second ‘Niido powered by Airbnb’ apartment recently opened in Nashville, Tennessee, following on the heels of another building in Kissimmee, Florida, that opened in 2017. Tenants in the buildings are encouraged to rent out their apartments on Airbnb when they’re not there, for up to half a year, and Niido provides on-site cleaning services, keyless doors, in-room secure storage and an onsite concierge to handle nightly Airbnb guests. (Read More)

Miami New Times: Miami Beach Might Fine Airbnb and Other Platforms for Illegal Short-Term Rentals

Miami Beach has established itself as one of the most anti-Airbnb cities in the country, banning short-term rentals across much of the island and issuing $20,000 fines for illegal listings. But so far, those fines have been aimed at property owners, not platforms like Airbnb. Recently, city commissioners moved to change that. After collecting just over $100,000 of the more than $1 million in fines it has handed out, the city is now looking to go after Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, and other companies that list rentals that are operating illegally. (Read More)

Bloomberg: Surprise, You Live in a Giant Airbnb

Airbnb is expanding in Florida with its first branded apartment complex in Kissimmee. This summer the Domain Apartments will become the online booking giant’s first branded apartment complex, Niido Powered by Airbnb, renting to tourists for short stays much the same way a hotel does. Residents were blindsided by the company’s first building-level conversion, but some are pushing back. (Read More)

Florida Politics: League of Cities Gives Airbnb A Dose of Snark

Airbnb this week touted a new report showing Florida seniors are cashing checks thanks to its platform, and the Florida League of Cities said that announcement is proof the company doesn’t need to bypass local governments in the vacation rental food fight. The League, one of the chief opponents of the statewide vacation rental framework sought by Airbnb, said Friday that it agreed – Florida’s business climate is great. So great, says League president Gil Ziffer, that a statewide law might muss it all up. (Read More)

Tampa Bay Times: Indian Rocks Beach Is Latest City to Get Creative in Regulating Short-Term Rentals

As vacation rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO have boomed over the past decade, the state Legislature has restricted local governments from regulating the duration and frequency of stays. In response, cities are devising creative workarounds to control party houses and de-facto hotels in residential neighborhoods — many getting sued in the process. (Read More)

Skift: Tenants of New Airbnb-Branded Complex in Florida Feel Blindsided

The developer behind Niido Powered by Airbnb is gearing up in just a few weeks to open the first location of its Airbnb-friendly apartment-hotel complex in Kissimmee, Florida, near Orlando. But before it does, Miami-based Newgard Development Group has an important challenge to overcome: convincing the complex’s current tenants that they want to “live a life worth sharing,” as publicized on Niido’s website. (Read More)

Florida Politics: Opponents strike back on Ashton Hayward’s Airbnb commercial

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward was the star of a television commercial that began in Tallahassee last week in which he extolled the virtues of vacation rental homes in Pensacola and Airbnb for marketing them – but opponents of that company’s legislative agenda are striking back this week, with a new video starring Hayward. (Read More)

Financial Times: Airbnb Plans Five More Complexes After Its First Florida Apartments

A new report from Financial Times confirms last month’s rumors that Airbnb will launch a new apartment complex in Florida in partnership with a real estate firm. (Read More)

Flagler Again Takes Vacation-Rental Case To Tallahassee as New Battle Lines Are Drawn

Flagler County is at the forefront of defining the regulatory approach and the short-term rental industry pushing back, often at the expense of home rule. (Read More)

Troy Flanagan Op-ed: Florida Lawmakers Must Protect Tourism By Addressing Illegal Rentals

While online rental platforms provide people with a new method to access and advertise short-term rentals, there have also been many unintended side effects. (Read More)

Mashable Editorial: Airbnb Is Opening Its Very Own Apartment Building (That Sounds A Lot Like A Hotel)

“The home-rental company is working in partnership with a property developer on a branded 300-unit rental complex in Kissimmee, Florida that will bear a new name: “Niido powered by Airbnb.” (Read More)

Carol Dover Op-Ed: Protect Florida Tourists, Neighborhoods By Stopping Illegal Hotel Operators

While Florida has long welcomed vacation rentals into the mix of accommodations options for tourists – there exists a divergent, growing problem of bad actors exploiting online platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway to operate what amount to illegal hotels across the State. (Read More)

Daytona Beach News-Journal Editorial: Let home rule prevail on rentals

The growing short-term rental industry, exemplified by the online home-sharing service Airbnb, has sparked a debate about property rights and government regulation, and the effects it has on traditional commercial rentals and neighborhoods. It’s a debate that should be conducted in local communities, not decided in Tallahassee. (Read more)

Herald-Tribune Editorial: Let communities set rules on rentals

Republican lawmakers have been known to criticize Big Government overreach and argue for deferring to the government closest to people. We hope that several of those Republicans are members the Florida Senate’s Regulated Industries Committee, which is scheduled today to take up an egregious example of overreach, Senate Bill 188. (Read more)

Mayors Levine, Regalado hold anti-Airbnb meeting while protesters decry crackdown

On Monday, Regalado said the ban, which if passed would prompt Miami code compliance officers to “go after the people that are doing commercial activity in the residential areas,” is only the first step. The city will then look to extend the regulations to condo buildings. (Read more)

Wall Street Journal: Hoteliers Cast Airbnb as Fast-Growing Professional Rival

Industry analysis characterizes website as more like a sophisticated rental operation than a casual business. (Read more) ““It’s the commercialization of residential property, and that doesn’t have a place in our neighborhoods.”

Huffington Post: Who’s Protecting Airbnb’s Guests from Discrimination?

Airbnb is determined to exert its will whether a community wants it around or not. The company has shown little respect for established laws, zoning and regulations in municipalities and an unwillingness to compete on a level playing field with legal hotels. In San Francisco, for example, they passed a bill to their liking in the city council after a hyper-aggressive lobbying campaign, but then sued the city because they didn’t want their own tailor-made bill enforced. (Read more)

EDITORIAL: Why Locals Should Decide

A vote for home rule isn’t the same as support for strangling the home-sharing industry. Rather, it’s affirmation that local governments know better than Tallahassee how to craft regulatory frameworks that best fit their communities, and that they are more easily held accountable for their actions. (Read more)

Tallahassee Democrat: Airbnb’s Florida record seems less than transparent

“Florida taxpayers do not get to pick and choose which laws to follow or what taxes to pay, how much to pay, and when to pay. Airbnb should live up to its stated commitment to transparency and payment of taxes, and provide the proper data to tax authorities and the public.” (Read more)

Palm Beach Post: Airbnb threatens Florida B&Bs, endangers consumers

“What sense does it make that unlicensed Airbnb property owners are not held to the same standard as traditional, licensed bed and breakfasts? To protect consumers, requirements like proper insurance, fire safety codes for commercial properties, existing local zoning laws, and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act should be applied evenly to the short-term rentals next door. A simple solution would be requiring short-term rental operators to register like any other business and be required to provide the license/registration number in every advertisement.” (Read more)



On demand platforms offering short-term rentals, like Airbnb, have found a place in Florida’s economy. When we see grandma using Airbnb to rent out a spare room that helps supplement her social security income, we marvel at how technology has given us new ways to use, and profit from, the things we own. But some people are taking advantage of this emerging industry.


Investors, often those from foreign countries, are buying up properties for the sole purpose of renting them out like hotel suites using Airbnb and other short term rental platforms.  By operating in this manner, they’re essentially running a hotel business, but dodging the requirements and protections to which real hotels must adhere.  These illegal hotels put your safety and property values at risk. Not only are illegal hotels not playing by the rules, but they are also not paying their fair share in taxes.


These unregulated hotels operating in residential areas drive huge profits while disrupting communities and posing safety concerns for guests and neighbors. Do we really need to explain what Spring Break in your condo or neighborhood looks like and how it affects your property value? Residential communities are simply not zoned or designed for commercial traffic and use.


Miami is one of the largest epicenters of illegal hotel activity in America.  A recent study shows how landlords are getting rich from listing short-term residential properties full-time. These operators raked in $47 million in just one year. That’s nearly 40% of Airbnb’s revenue in the region. That’s not home sharing, that’s a commercial enterprise.


Unfortunately, the regulations governing this type of activity haven’t caught up with the times. Meanwhile, Airbnb is doing whatever it can to hide the growth in commercial activity on its platform from policymakers and the public, arguing that only grandma is posting on its site. That’s why we are urging Florida’s state and local lawmakers to strike a balance and close the “illegal hotel loophole.” Lawmakers need to act in order to protect communities and ensure all commercial lodging operations are operating as such.


Follow us on Twitter @AirbnbWATCHFL.


AirbnbWATCH Florida Launches Effort to Protect Floridians from Illegal Hotels in Residential Areas that Disrupt Communities & Pose Safety Concerns

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tallahassee, Fla.AirbnbWATCH Florida, a neighborhood watch group of concerned individuals and organizations, today launched its effort to bring attention to illegal hotel operations in residential areas that are disrupting communities and posing safety concerns for Floridians.

“We’ve got a year-round Spring Break happening next door to us with new people we don’t know coming in and out at all hours of the night,” said Tom Alderson, a Seminole County resident who lives next to a house rented on Airbnb. “It’s not only bad for our property values, it’s horrifying when strangers start showing up in your neighborhood night after night. Legislators shouldn’t wait for Airbnb to move in next door to them before regulating this. They won’t like it either, that’s for sure.”

Over the past 3-4 years, the home-sharing industry has grown exponentially with companies like Airbnb rising in popularity, especially in high-tourism states like Florida.  However, instead of Airbnb being the concept that it was spurred from, this industry has created a new type of host, a commercial operator that buys up properties from the housing market for the sole purpose of renting them out like hotel suites – often multiple units available for rent year-round – using Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms.

“What sense does it make that Airbnb’s unlicensed property owners are not held to the same standard as traditional bed and breakfasts?” said Florida Bed and Breakfast Inns Executive Director Patricia Detwiler.  “To protect consumers, following fire and safety codes, operating in accordance with existing local zoning laws, and complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act should be applied evenly to the short-term rentals next door.  I say a simple solution would be requiring short-term rental operators to register and be required to publish a license number when advertising.”

“I’ve joined this group of likeminded, Florida-based individuals and organizations because it is time our voices are heard and these growing number of commercial investors, who are many times from foreign countries and coming in and profiting from illegal hotel operations and disrupting our communities, are stopped,” said Stefano Frittella, owner of Pelican Hotel in Miami.  “Residential communities are simply not zoned or designed for commercial traffic and use, and Florida is becoming a hotbed of illegal activity.”

As an example, close to home, Miami is one of the largest epicenters of illegal hotel activity in America.  A recent study conducted by Penn State University School of Hospitality shows how landlords are getting illegally rich from listing short-term residential properties full time, raking in $47 million in just one year – that’s nearly 40 percent of Airbnb’s revenue in the region – making it no longer home sharing, but a commercial enterprise.

To increase awareness of these illegal hotel operations that are disrupting communities and posing safety concerns to residential areas in Florida, AirbnbWATCH Florida members have begun distributing yard signs to concerned neighbors across the state.



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