A Miami Beach property owner is accusing the city of engaging in discriminatory practices when it comes to cracking down on short-term rentals.
Natalie Nichols filed a civil rights lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on Wednesday, alleging the city’s practice of levying five-figure fines on some residents who list their properties on Airbnb and other home-sharing websites violates the Florida Constitution.
Nichols wants a permanent injunction that would prevent the city from fining property owners like her who want to offer short-term rentals. “I feel strongly that this is a violation of my constitutional rights,” she said. “There is a silent majority in Miami Beach that want short-term rentals. But people are afraid to come forward.”
Nichols’ complaint hinges on an exception the city carved out for a section of North Beach. Specifically, properties fronting Harding Avenue from 73rd to 87th streets, including buildings east of Harding and an alley on the west side of the avenue, the lawsuit states.
In October 2016 — ten months after the city raised short-term rental fines from $1,000 a day to $20,000 for the first offense — Miami Beach made it legal for owners of historic buildings along Harding to offer short-term rentals. Preservationists and developers supported the measure, believing it would motivate property owners to renovate and maintain old buildings.
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