Making Room for the Condo Hotel and Apartment Hotel in Miami

Bilzin Sumberg
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Bilzin Sumberg

With the advent of short-term rental solutions such as Sonder, Domio, Guild, and others, the private sector was significantly ahead of the curve in expanding upon housing typology. Their ultimate success was, however, limited in certain instances by municipal regulations that didn’t fully appreciate the use, its need, and how to regulate it. By creating regulations that allow a harmonious existence of this living concept and neighboring uses, cities have paved a way to allow these uses to move forward. One such regulation is the City of Miami’s formation of the Condo Hotel or Apartment Hotel uses. Under Miami 21, the City of Miami’s zoning code, “multi-family housing” is defined as a building or portion thereof, containing three or more dwelling units where each unit has direct access to the outside or to a common hall. In the instance of a multifamily structure where dwelling units are available for lease or rent for less than one month, it shall be considered “lodging”. A “lodging unit” is specifically defined as attached or semidetached living quarters comprised of furnished room(s) of approximately two hundred (200) gross square feet or more in area, including sanitary facilities but with only limited kitchen facilities, if any; not qualifying as a dwelling unit or efficiency apartment; occupied by transients on a rental or lease basis for limited periods of time. Hence a gap existed between multi-family housing and lodging that seemed perfectly filled by the private sector concept of short-term rentals. Unfortunately, the above definitions resulted in ambiguity where multi-family residential units containing full kitchen facilities (and therefore, by definition, not lodging units) were rented or leased for periods of less than one month.

As a result, the Planning Department of the City of Miami issued a series of Determinations of Use, which clarified the applicable regulations pertaining to the short-term rental of multi-family residential units. Pursuant to the Determinations, multi-family units containing full kitchen facilities rented for a term of less than 30 days, shall be considered to be an “Apartment Hotel” or “Condo Hotel” use, distinct from both multi-family residential uses and lodging uses.

The full definition of Apartment Hotel or Condo Hotel (these terms being interchangeable), is as follows: “a room, or group of rooms, each containing separate bathroom and full kitchen facilities, with ingress and egress that may or may not be through a common lobby, intended for rental to transients on a day-to-day, week-to-week, or month-to-month basis, not intended for use as a permanent dwelling.” Among other things, the Determinations also contain various regulations that apply to the permissible location for this use, calculations for parking, impact fees, applicability of Building Code and ADA standards, as well as operational requirements.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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