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New Tech, Staff to Target Illegal Vacation Rentals in Monroe County, Fla.

Short-term rentals of less than 28 days in the unincorporated area must be licensed, pay taxes and not operate in most residential neighborhoods.

by Kevin Wadlow, Florida Keys Keynoter (Marathon, Fla.) / May 18, 2017
Few people enjoying a touristic area of Key West, Fla., which sits in Monroe County. Shutterstock

(TNS) -- A request for more than $237,000 would add more muscle and technology to Monroe County’s campaign against illegal vacation rentals.

Monroe County commissioners, meeting May 17 in Key West, will hear a request from county Code Compliance staff to hire two new staffers to join the one officer now assigned to enforce vacation-rental rules in the unincorporated county.

The two positions would cost $140,000 and a one-year contract with online search firm Host Compliance would cost $97,238, department Senior Director Cynthia McPherson wrote in a background brief.

She noted, “With three trained employees, we estimate we can probably process 300 cases in the first year, which could equate to approximately $1.5 million in fines.”

Host Compliance, a firm that searches internet advertising for short-term rentals that may not be legal, calculated “there were 2,593 short-term rental listings in unincorporated Monroe County,” McPherson reported. Short-term rentals of less than 28 days in the unincorporated area must be licensed, pay taxes and not operate in most residential neighborhoods.

“Collecting fees is not our goal,” McPherson wrote. “Compliance is our goal, with an understanding of the havoc caused by this activity in our neighborhoods... [which also is] removing the supply of housing from the annual-rental market, thereby driving up the cost of housing to our workforce.”

©2017 the Florida Keys Keynoter (Marathon, Fla.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.