South Beach is a top destination for spring breakers and there are a lot of hotels to choose from. There is an alternative, though – short-term or party rental homes.
They are very popular, but they are also very illegal.
Miami Beach in March is an international winter haven that hosts thousands for some of the biggest parties. Ultra Music Weekend is coming up, but this weekend it’s the annual Winter Party Festival that’s taking place.
"We booked really late and we didn’t really have much options because of the event, there was a lot of no vacancies,” tourist Jared Snavely said.
Snavely, who is from New York, decided to come here at the last minute. With limited options on where to stay, he and his partner decided to rent somebody's apartment.
"It’s just a two-bedroom apartment and it is a lot more affordable than the traditional hotel,” Snavely said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to come."
They found it online, on Airbnb.com. More than a thousand short-term rentals are listed with apartments as low as $79 a night.
"The whole weekend we're paying as much as we would pay a whole night from a hotel,” Snavely said.
Despite their popularity, short-term and party rentals are illegal on parts of the Beach. More than 300 complaints were filed in a one-year period between November 2012 and October 2013. Now the Miami Beach City Commission is taking steps to enforce the ordinance with a ban on advertising.
"If you advertise for a short-term rental in those neighborhoods where it’s prohibited, you’d be in violation of our short-term rental ordinance,” City Commissioner Edward Tobin said.
The measure is designed to crack down on short-term rentals, especially in upscale living areas like North Bay Road. Neil Eisenberg says a party home in his neighborhood is nothing but trouble with illegal activities.
"I have a daughter and two sons and all of them are afraid to walk the dog at night, they’re afraid to walk out the front door and walk the dog at night,” Eisenberg said.
A total of 189 short-term rental violations were issued in 2012-2013. If the advertising ban passes the first fine will be $2,500, and fines could go up to as much as $20,000.