Drew Grewal faced fines of nearly half a million dollars because his Miami Beach home was being listed illegally on Airbnb.
In Miami Beach — as in New York, San Diego and many other U.S. cities — short-term rentals of the kind facilitated by Airbnb, VRBO, Tripadvisor and others are strictly limited. Laws, fees and taxes vary regionally, but fines for violations are typically high. In Miami Beach, the fines run at $20,000 for a first violation and rise from there.
When the first notice arrived on Jan. 19, Grewal thought the city of Miami Beach must be mistaken. He hadn't used Airbnb as a host in years. Then it dawned on him that his long-term tenants might be responsible, despite a clause in their lease barring them from using his place for transient occupancy.
An agent checked up on the property for him and confirmed his suspicions. The yard had been trashed, with some patio furniture shredded. Somebody had installed electronic locks — presumably so guests could check in and out.