Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal handed down a win for local governments on Wednesday when the Court reversed a previous Circuit Court injunction that barred the City of Miami from enforcing a ban on short-term rentals in residential areas of the City.

Background

In 2017, the City of Miami adopted a resolution that affirmed the City’s zoning regulations “as they pertain to short-term/vacation rentals,” and stated that neighborhoods zoned as T3 were limited to permanent residential use, which precluded rental accommodations per night, week, or anything less than one month.

Notably, the T3 zone encompassed most of the City’s single-family houses and duplexes. When residents who had been using Airbnb to rent their properties spoke against the resolution, residents were directed to state their name and address for the record, and the City Manager made the comment that the City was “now on notice” of those who spoke against the City’s code and that he would direct his staff to enforce the City code.

Airbnb took the issue to the Circuit Court, claiming that the 2017 resolution was preempted by a 2011 state law that prevents cities and counties from passing ordinances prohibiting or unduly regulating vacation rentals. Airbnb and individual residents also filed for an injunction to stop the City from enforcing the resolution against the residents who spoke out against it at the City Commission meeting.

After hearing arguments, the Circuit Court issued a temporary injunction against the City which stopped the City from enforcing its vacation rental ban, as well as prevented the City from requiring residents to give their name and address if they wished to speak during the public comment portion of a City Commission meetings, stating that the requirement had a chilling effect on freedom of speech.

Holding

Fast forward to December 5, 2018, and the Third District Court of Appeal reversed the Circuit Court’s orders.

In reversing the Circuit Court, the 3rd DCA stated that the injunction halting the City’s vacation rental ban was overbroad and not preempted by state law because, although Miami’s land use code was updated in 2016 and the resolution passed in 2017, the material provisions of the code were adopted in 2009 and, therefore, were not preempted by the 2011 state statute. Simply stated, this decision means the City of Miami may now enforce its zoning regulations on short term vacation rentals.

The 3rd DCA also reversed the injunction that stopped the City from requiring speakers at public hearings to give their names and addresses. The 3rd DCA stated that preventing the City from requiring speakers to give their name and address at any public hearing was overbroad, and that the City has a legitimate interest in knowing the speaker’s name and address for various purposes, such as whether the speaker is actually a resident of the City.

Take-Away

Airbnb and short-term vacation rentals have been long contested by hotels, neighbors, city officials, and many others. This ruling may be the first in a long line of litigation stemming from municipal and county enforcement against such short-term rentals. Therefore, residents and homeowners are encouraged to know the laws of their jurisdiction before renting out their home through Airbnb in order to avoid fines, citations, or any other remedy a city or county has authority to pursue under local law. If you have any questions regarding short term vacation rentals, please feel free to contact me at kaylee.tuck@henlaw.com or by phone at 239-344-1164.