Last updated: 11:30 AM ET, Tue May 31 2016

AH&LA, Airbnb Continue Dispute Over Illegal Hotels in Miami

Hotel & Resort | Patrick Clarke | May 31, 2016

AH&LA, Airbnb Continue Dispute Over Illegal Hotels in Miami

Photo courtesy of RIU Hotels & Resorts.

Miami is the latest destination to be victimized by unregulated or illegal hotels, according to a new study from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA).

The organization, which has released several reports pertaining to major U.S. cities, revealed that 62 percent of short-term rental service Airbnb's revenue in Miami comes from hosts listing multiple units.

The study, conducted by Penn State University’s School of Hospitality Management, also found that 76 percent of the company's revenue in Miami came from hosts who listed properties for rent for more than half of the year.

What's more, full-time hosts listing their properties 360 or more days per year accounted for 40 percent of Airbnb's Miami revenue, according to the study.

"Unregulated hotels operated in residential properties are disruptive to communities and pose serious safety concerns for guests, for communities and for neighborhoods," said AH&LA President and Chief Executive Officer Katherine Lugar in a statement. "In Miami, as in cities around the country, we have seen that Airbnb is unwilling to be transparent with its data and be a partner in creating safe environments for its users and the communities in which it operates."

READ MORE: AH&LA Report Suggests 'Illegal Hotels' Driving Airbnb Revenue in LA

"...A growing portion of Airbnb’s revenue comes from commercial landlords using the platform to operate unregulated and often illegal lodging businesses. This problem is particularly acute in Miami, where – more than in any of the 14 cities studied – multi-unit and full-time operators drive Airbnb’s revenue," added Lugar, who called on local policymakers to close the "illegal hotel loophole."

Airbnb responded to the AH&LA's report by discrediting its legitimacy.

"This factually inaccurate study, which was paid for by the hotel industry, is the latest example of the industry's attempt to mislead and manipulate to stifle competition," Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty told Curbed Miami. "The AH&LA is out of touch with the increasing number of consumers and cities embracing the tremendous benefits of home sharing. Vacation rentals have always been a driving force in Miami tourism and now home sharing is broadening that impact and bringing visitors' dollars to new neighborhoods and small businesses."

READ MORE: Examining the State of Airbnb

"In Florida, Airbnb collects and remits hotel taxes at the state level and in 27 counties," Nulty added. "We continue to have productive conversations with officials to make it possible to collect and remit hotel taxes in Miami-Dade County and expect to reach an agreement soon."

The San Francisco-based company went on to poke holes in the AH&LA report, pointing out that zero Airbnb listings in Miami were booked for more than 360 days and that just one percent of listings were booked more than 300 days.

While the AH&LA study is certainly a bad look for Airbnb, especially in the wake of a recent lawsuit filed against the company alleging discrimination, its popularity ultimately hinges on its value, which beats out that of hotels in many destinations. 

In the meantime it's difficult to know for sure whether either side is releasing accurate data. That said these studies should be taken with a healthy grain of salt.

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