Airbnb

In the year since home-sharing company Airbnb signed tax deals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, it's paid both counties millions more in taxes than it originally promised.

C.M. Guerrero cguerrero@miamiherald.com

After claims of racial discrimination on its platform, home-sharing site Airbnb is partnering with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to attract more black hosts and guests to its site.

And they're launching the national program in Miami-Dade County.

Airbnb and NAACP will pilot the effort in Miami Gardens and Little Haiti, the partners announced Wednesday. They expect to expand to other cities nationwide in the future.

Aglez the city guy/Flickr

Florida International University (FIU) in Miami has a starring role in a plot twist involving the ongoing saga between the hotel industry and home-sharing companies like Airbnb. 

FIU, a state university that gets some of its funding from Florida taxpayers, had been selected for a grant worth over $68,000 from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AHLEF). The grant would have been used to study the safety and security of short-term rentals like Airbnb.

Since its inception nearly a decade ago, Airbnb has faced questions from people of color as to whether the company's worldwide "vacancy" sign really applied to them.

The company has been plagued by allegations and several lawsuits, predominantly but not exclusively from African-Americans, claiming discrimination.

Lisette Poole / Airbnb

In Miami-Dade County, Airbnb has become a big business and political controversy. But across the Florida Straits in Cuba, there are few complaints about the online lodging service.

In fact, Airbnb is urging the Trump Administration not to roll back normalized relations with Cuba. And it’s stepping into Cuba politics because it’s doing so well in Cuba business. This week Airbnb reports that Cubans have netted $40 million the past two years by using the online service to rent their homes and rooms to short-term visitors.

This week on The Florida Roundup...

By next month, hotel taxes from Airbnb guests will be collected and paid in two South Florida counties. Both the Miami-Dade and Broward County commissions approved separate agreements this week with the home-sharing site over the counties' taxes and hotel rooms. 

C.M. Guerrero / Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Its economy relies to an absurd extent on the low-wage tourism sector. Because it lacks higher-wage, tech-oriented jobs, its average citizens struggle to bridge the chasm between their incomes and their exorbitant living costs.

But so what? It’s a sunny town on a bay with muy caliente Latin flavor. The visitors and their money will keep coming and keep the place afloat. Besides, it’s got more important things to worry about – like a mortal political enemy 90 miles away.

A proposal to halt local regulation of vacation rentals passed in committee Tuesday after a heated debate over private property and community rights.

CHABELI HERRERA / MIAMI HERALD

This week on The Florida Roundup...

Miami-Dade County has inked a deal with Airbnb for the home-sharing company to collect and pay hotel taxes. Yet, the city of Miami and Miami Beach continue to pushback against the service and its hosts.

Priscila Serrano / WLRN

Renting a spare room through Airbnb could soon become illegal in parts of Miami as it already is in Miami Beach, as mayors of both cities want to implement stricter rules on homeowners. 

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado will propose an ordinance to Miami city commissioners on Thursday to prohibit short-term rentals in some areas.

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

In an effort to bring Airbnb under some of the same regulations its competitors in the hotel industry face, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has reached an agreement with the popular home-sharing platform to collect county resort taxes.

Under the agreement, Airbnb will collect the 6 percent Miami-Dade resort tax from its hosts and remit that money to the county every month. If trends continue, that would amount to at least $8 million a year for the county, said Benjamin Breit, an Airbnb spokesman.

Tom Hudson

With record tourism comes big business, but you won’t find a front desk at one of the largest lodging groups in the state - Airbnb.

The home-sharing network has almost 33,000 hosts in Florida, generating millions of dollars for it and the hosts, basically property owners who rent a room, home or a condo for a few days to a visitor. The company calls it a short-term rental and insists it is not in competition with the hotel business.

The traditional hotel business is growing in South Florida. Here's what 2016 looked like for hotels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties:

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

Since the Monroe County Tax Collector took over enforcement of unlicensed vacation rentals Jan. 1, the agency has collected $52,000 in taxes and resolved hundreds of cases, according to Tax Collector Danise Henriquez.

Airbnb

Airbnb is a hugely popular way to find someplace to stay on vacation. More than 25 million guests have used the service, according to the website.

But in the Florida Keys, renting your home for less than a month requires a special license. The city of Key West's Code Compliance Board agenda for this week included 14 cases against unlicensed vacation rentals.

Bob Krist / Florida Keys News Service

The tourism industry in the Florida Keys is booming with high occupancy and record-high room rates this season. Still, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council this week released a report (see it at the end of this post) on unlicensed vacation rentals and rental scams, calling for a crackdown by local governments.

The Keys have 15,000 licensed lodging units — that includes hotel rooms, campsites and homes with licenses for short-term rentals. In most of the Keys, short-term is defined as less than a month.