Key West keeps finding illegal transient rentals

Key West’s next code compliance hearing is 1:30 p.m. May 31 at City Hall.
Key West’s next code compliance hearing is 1:30 p.m. May 31 at City Hall. Keynoter

Key West’s code compliance department continues racking up cases of illegal transient rentals — local property owners risking code violations by advertising their homes without the proper license.

But one of seven cases lodged on the latest code hearing agenda is against Airbnb, the online home rental giant which in 2015 signed a settlement with Key West agreeing not to advertise short-term rentals.

“There was no fine because the property owners ate it,” said Jim Young, City Code Compliance director. “Now we are re-citing them again, and we’ll see where that takes us. Our position is that they’re advertising and receiving compensation for it.”

In Key West, a license is required to rent short-term housing for fewer than 30 days. Many of the new cases involve a property owner advertising legally, but in messages with prospective customers offering up the homes for seven days.

That is allegedly the case for Roxanne E. Fleszar and Michel Appellis, who code says in August advertised 723 Catherine St. for seven nights for a total $4,130.

The code compliance hearing, overseen by the city’s special magistrate Donald Yates, is set for Wednesday, starting at 1:30 p.m. at Key West City Hall, 1300 White St.

Key West has code officers assigned to the illegal transient rental beat, and many of the cases arise from their investigations. But some locals are also fed up.

“We get complaints from neighbors,” Young said. “They get tired of constant traffic every weekend. Garbage being left out because [renters] don’t know it’s garbage day.”

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen