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Airbnb Regulations By City
Understanding all the relevant regulations and tax rules when running an Airbnb or vacation rental can be overwhelming. However, it’s increasingly important to ensure that you are fully compliant with any laws for your area at the city and state level.
As the vacation rental market matures, local governments and tax collection authorities are getting wiser to how much money is being made by hosts and striving to ensure they get their cut. Hotel companies are also lobbying for more compliance to ensure they aren’t put at an unfair advantage when they pay their lodging taxes.
Between the increasing pressure on local governments to crack down on party houses and other ‘bad actors’ in their vacation rental communities and the rapid growth of vacation rental market supply and demand it is likely there will be plenty more regulations introduced.
The best advice we can give you is to make sure you know the rules for your property back-to-front, and ensure you’re licensed and paying taxes, or you could be liable for fines and/or removal from vacation rental marketplaces like Airbnb. That would be a good way to destroy your vacation rental empire before it’s even got started.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled an in-depth guide on every aspect of vacation rental and Airbnb regulations and taxes, including looking at the specific rules in some vacation rental hotspots.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Seattle, Washington
Seattle is one of the most steady tourism markets in the United States and it continues to grow. With exciting spots to visit like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, plus with the ocean and mountains as neighbors, the Pacific Northwest should be a top choice for an escape for a long time coming. With this popularity comes ample opportunity to get into the vacation rental business. However, as this industry booms, a number of new laws have been introduced in various cities across the country. While there hasn’t been a full crackdown yet, there are some Airbnb regulations in Seattle that hosts should be aware of.
Seattle’s newest regulations, which went into effect January 1st 2019, are pretty standard when compared to some of the ordinances passed in other places. The Seattle Airbnb regulations state that all short-term property operators need to acquire a rental license from the city.
Once acquired, the license allows hosts to rent out one unit in addition to their primary residence. While there are potential exceptions for those who have been in the short-term vacation rental business since prior to 2017, this will be required of all current and new vacation rental hosts in Seattle.
Aside from generally establishing regulations, these new rules for Airbnb and other vacation rental platforms come as a response to Seattle’s housing market. The city has seen a large influx of residents in recent years — a result of various trends, including the tech boom. Consequently, Seattle has seen a housing crunch which has led to huge price increases and limited availability of affordable housing. The rise of short-term vacation rentals has only perpetuated these issues. The Seattle City Council recently released a statement explaining the regulations, saying they want to “preserve the availability of long-term rentals while allowing the economic opportunity that short-term rentals offer residents…”
Types of Licenses
Since the ordinances have gone into place in Seattle, the city has established four different types of licensing that short-term property owners may be eligible for.
Any Seattle homeowner that rents a unit of their home for short-term stays (defined as stints of 30 days or less) will require a business license and tax certificate. These homeowners are also required to apply for two other licenses mentioned below: the short-term rental license and the bed and breakfast license. Be aware that the process to receive a business license could take up to two weeks, so new hosts need to plan accordingly and before their first booking.
Short-Term Rental Operator’s License
This is the license needed for those operating traditional short-term rentals. As mentioned above, hosts can only operate two properties at once, one of which must be a primary residence and the other in a second home. The primary residence address must match that of the address on the host’s driver’s license or another official document like a voter registration card. A host can register with the City of Seattle online or directly with the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. Each license is given on a per-unit basis and costs $75. They are only valid for one year, meaning they need to be renewed annually. Seattle hosts are required to add this license to their listings on Airbnb or other sites like Vrbo.
Rental Regulation and Inspection Ordinance
This is for those that opt to operate a vacation rental in a secondary residence. It is required in conjunction with the Short-Term Rental Operator’s License. To get one, a host must pay an additional $70 and have their home inspected. By applying, the host is also agreeing to allow the city to inspect that property every 10 years or sooner.
Bed and Breakfast Operator’s License
Calling a property a “bed and breakfast” rather than a vacation rental doesn’t skirt around the system. Like the Short Term Rental Operator’s License, the Bed and Breakfast license also is given by the city, costs $75, and must be renewed annually.
Seattle hosts are responsible for paying Washington state’s lodging tax. To do so, hosts must register with the state. Airbnb and other platforms collect lodging taxes for their hosts but homeowners still need to register and file lodging tax returns as a means of reporting additional income. Some vacation rental hosts may also need to file business taxes.
Other Regulations Unique to the Seattle Market
Tenants are not allowed to operate a short-term rental business unless they live in a “legacy” rental. These are homes that were being rented out prior to 2017 when the ordinances were passed. So if a tenant is now living in one of these homes, they can apply for their licensing.
The Seattle Land Use Code and the Building and Construction Code restrict using certain types of properties from becoming vacation rentals. Hosts may not register RVs, tents, garages, tiny homes, boats, or tree houses as a short-term rental. This also applies to Seattle’s famous houseboats.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Hawaii
Cities and destinations all around the world have been clamping down on the short-term rental industry as it becomes increasingly difficult to control rent prices. Since the arrival of vacation rental sites such as Airbnb and VRBO, popular tourist destinations such as Hawaii have been under pressure to control the situation and implement firm restrictions on the short-term rental market. Homeowner and landlords can make a lot more money by renting short-term than by long-term, which is driving the issue. So are vacation rentals legal in Hawaii? Here’s what we know.
Short-Term Rental Demand
Hawaii is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States thanks to its stunning tropical scenery, picturesque beaches, and charming culture. A large percentage of tourists traveling to Hawaii want to stay in short-term vacation rentals, as opposed to hotels. This is because vacation rentals are generally cheaper, you can feel like you’re staying in a ‘home from home’, and have a more local experience. Estimates suggest the tourism industry in Hawaii has boomed in the last decade, going up from 8 million tourists to 10 million tourists. The hotel industry hasn’t met this increase, and the vacation rental industry has largely soaked up the demand.
In turn, landlords, homeowners, and even tenants have been meeting the influx by using their homes as vacation rentals. This has aggravated the rental industry — for property owners, it is significantly more profitable to rent to tourists for a few days at a time than it is to rent to long-term residents. Hawaii already has a housing shortage with many locals struggling to find suitable long-term housing, and the vacation rental industry has exacerbated this problem. Cities around the world, such as Singapore, Toronto, and New York are battling against a similar conflicting situation — on the one hand the need to manage the negative impact of the vacation rental industry on locals versus the fact that restrictions on the industry might damage tourism.
There’s tons of opposition coming from locals towards the short-term rental industry in Hawaii. This is because short-term rentals can often be in residential areas and the influx of tourists means that there are crowds looking to drink and party — which is seen as a nuisance and disruption for the local community. Unfortunately, some tourists do forget that these destinations aren’t just fun spots for vacationers or ‘resort zones’ but they are actually residential neighborhoods. It also provides competition for local bed and breakfasts and small, family-run hotels, which are struggling to keep up with the cheap prices available through vacation rental sites. As mentioned previously, the housing shortage for locals is also one of the key factors in opposition to vacation rentals.
Current Hawaii Vacation Rental Laws
The rules vary from county to county in Hawaii, and there’s no blanket policy covering the whole state. In most main counties, you need a permit if you are operating a vacation rental, as well to be registered with your local county.
As the permits are issued by individual Hawaiin counties, which have varying regulations, these regulations are often poorly enforced. It’s relatively easy to get away operating a vacation without signing up for a permit. Honolulu is thought to have thousands of units that are illegally operating as short-term rentals, with some estimates suggesting up to 8,000 units in total. Honolulu has not issued new permits to vacation rentals since 1989 — which is part of the problem.
Meanwhile, counties like Kauai and Maui have been more successful in clamping down on illegal vacation rentals, although they are still struggling to track down units operating illegally and without permits.
As the rules vary by county, some counties require that rental owners pay taxes and others request the rental platforms collect the taxes on behalf of the hosts. The Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice estimates there are 23,000 vacation rentals in Hawaii, and many are illegal.
In recent months, lawmakers in Honolulu have passed legislation to make sure that the state is benefitting from Hawaii’s flourishing vacation rental economy. Honolulu City Council has passed tax-raising legislation whereby rental platforms are responsible for collecting taxes on behalf of the homeowners listing their properties.
A challenge that they are likely to face is the reality that it’s hard to monitor short-term vacation rentals and therefore is challenging to perform tax collection.
Enforcing the Law
It’s difficult for law enforcement to prove that a property is an illegal vacation rental if there’s just an online listing to back-up their claim. Law enforcement is having to visit illegal vacation rentals on repeat occasions in order to interview neighbors, people on vacation, or managers looking after the property, so to build up a sufficient case. This is time-consuming for all involved and therefore has been a big hurdle in creating restrictions on the vacation rental industry.
Battle With Airbnb
There have been recent battles against Airbnb whereby Hawaii has asked Airbnb to disclose information on the past decades of vacation rentals in the state, alongside the names of those operating vacation rental units. The case was shelved by a judge as it was said that this would be a “massive intrusion” into the private data of 16,000 hosts. It’s likely that the battle will continue.
Vacation Rental Restrictions Around the World
There are a lot of cities around the world that have put in place rules to manage the vacation rental industry. Cities such as Singapore and New York are some of the strictest. For example in Singapore, it’s illegal to list properties for a rental period of fewer than three months. In New York, it’s illegal to rent an apartment or condo there for less than 30 days, with very few exceptions to this rule. Meanwhile, Toronto is softer on the industry, as an entire home can be rented out as a ‘short-term’ rental (which is defined as less than 28 consecutive days) for a maximum of 180 nights a year.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Florida
Every year, Florida sits comfortably in the top five most visited states in America. It is so popular that often times it finishes only behind California as the number one state. From warm, tropical weather to Miami’s nightlife to the soul-crushing lines of Disney World, there are plenty of reasons why Florida is so popular amongst tourists. As the vacation rental market expands and challenges the tourism status quo, certain places have implemented rules and regulations to quell the growth. Vacation rentals are legal in Florida, but there are certain rules that people — hosts especially — should be aware of.
Vacation Rental Definition in Florida
As with most legal issues and questions, a lot comes down to semantics or jargon. This is also the case with vacation rentals. Florida law currently defines a vacation rental as “any unit or group of units in a condominium or cooperative or any individually or collectively owned single-family, two-family, or four-family house or dwelling unit that is also a transient public lodging establishment but that is not a timeshare project.” Florida then further distinguishes a vacation rental in two subcategories: dwelling and condo.
Short-Term Rental Requirements
In order to be legal, the state of Florida requires property managers or hosts to acquire a license. These can be obtained through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and their Vacation Rental and Timeshare Project Licensing division.
These are distributed amongst the two subcategories previously mentioned. A Vacation Rental – Condominium license is issued for a group of units or singular unit in a condominium complex or in a cooperative (more commonly referred to as a co-op). Meanwhile Vacation Rental – Dwelling licenses are awarded to a wide range of accommodations. According to the DBPR website, these include single-family houses, townhouses, or unit/group of units in a duplex, triplex, quadruplex, or other dwelling units that have four or fewer units collectively.
There are also Single, Group, and Collective licenses within the two main categories. These are based on the number of properties that a host represents. Singles are for one home, Group is to cover multiple units in one building, and a Collective is for someone who is a host for multiple units in multiple locations.
Upon receiving one of these licenses, a vacation rental can legally operate in the state of Florida on one of the many vacation rental provider websites.
When Do Hosts Need a License?
As a general rule of thumb, all hosts should assume they must have a license to operate a short-term rental in Florida. Florida requires that anyone renting an entire unit for more than three times in a calendar year, for periods of less than 30 days or 1 month, must acquire a license. But don’t think there are any loopholes in those time periods as they also say if the property is advertised anywhere or regularly rented exclusively to the public it also needs a license.
The one place where hosts can find an exception is with the phrase “entire unit”. If hosts rent a single room or multiple units that do not comprise of the entire unit, then that place is not considered to be public lodging. The Florida DBPR and the Division of Hotels and Restaurants do not require these rentals to get a license because of this classification.
Once obtained, vacation rentals must maintain certain standards to be able to continually keep their license. First, the place that is licensed must display those current licenses in an obvious place within the “business”. The other requirements almost all are related to hygiene and cleanliness. These include that the unit must be in good condition, bedding is clean and sanitized between uses, mattresses are entirely covered by sheets or blankets, soaps should be individually wrapped if provided, the unit is vermin-free, and any dishes or glassware must be cleaned between guests. Failure to comply with any of these could lead to the revoking of a license.
According to Floridian laws, there are ways for property owners to be eligible for a tax exemption of $50,000. This happens often when the property is declared to be a permanent residence or the permanent residence of a dependent. If this is the case, these stipulations could have an impact on a property’s vacation rental status.
The laws outlined in this article are in reference to general statewide laws in Florida. Hosts and property owners should, however, refer to their local government’s requirements to understand if there are any additional requirements to operate a short-term rental. This is not totally uncommon. For example, up until mid-2018, vacation rentals were illegal in Orlando. However, now under certain municipal and local regulations, they are able to function legally.
The Legality of Short-Term Rentals in Florida
The first question on the minds of Florida residents is whether or not short-term rentals are legal. Renting out a property to vacationers is indeed legal, but there is a unique set of rules and regulations set by the Florida Department of Revenue. Part of the reason for the state government’s strict take on this is to allow for shared wealth among rental owners and hotels.
Rentals seem to have taken over, and major hotel chains, as well as small mom-and-pop accommodations, have taken a serious hit. There’s no question as to why some travelers prefer to stay in a cozy short-term rental, but the government just wants everyone in the industry to play fair.
Licensing Requirements for Short-Term Rentals in Florida
The first requirement for a property owner is to make sure that the rental can be considered as a short-term rental. According to the state government of Florida, this is the full definition of a short-term rental:
“Any unit or group of units in a condominium or cooperative or any individually or collectively owned single-family, two-family, or four-family house or dwelling unit that is also a transient public lodging establishment but that is not a timeshare project.”
Once the property fits the bill for short-term rentals, the next requirement is for the property manager or owner to obtain a license. To get this license, an application will be sent to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Within this department, there is a division called Vacation Rental and Timeshare Project Licensing.
Whether the property is located in Gainesville, Orlando, or Destin, applying for a license is a good idea. The only exception is for property owners who are not renting out an entire unit. The definition above states that a short-term rental is a public lodging. Anyone renting out a single room or single unit rather than an entire unit can slide by without a license.
Paying Taxes on Short-Term Rentals in Florida
After receiving the license, it is time to pay the tax that the state requires for operating a short-term rental business. Property owners renting to an individual or family for at least six consecutive months won’t have to collect tax from the renter. Any renters staying less than 185 consecutive days, though, will be required to pay the tax.
At the moment, the state sales tax in Florida is 6% for short-term rentals. So every time a new guest makes a booking that is less than six months total, there needs to be tax collected. This is just the state tax, but there will sometimes be county taxes applied as well. It is important to fully understand the Florida tax laws not only in the state but also in the local jurisdiction.
A Short-Term Rental Owner’s Guide to Collecting Taxes in Florida
Before any real estate taxes can be paid, a rental owner should fully understand the area’s tax compliance rules. The first thing to know is that if a home falls into the “short-term rental” category, a sales tax must be applied. Just like hotels, B&Bs, and motels, short-term rentals are money-making businesses. A bed is being provided in exchange for cash, so applying a “bed tax” is necessary.
Some rental property owners feel as if they don’t owe the government anything, and perhaps they’ll be able to slide under the radar if the rental operation remains fairly small. This might work at first, but eventually fairly to comply with tax laws will catch up to these rental owners. The laws say that short-term rental owners are required to collect sales tax, and failure to abide by the law isn’t a good idea.
Short-Term Rental Taxes in 3 Steps
- Step 1: Government agency registration
- Step 2: Begin collecting taxes from renters
- Step 3: File sales tax return
The three steps above show just how easy it can be to file sales taxes for a short-term rental operation. Step 1 isn’t referring to obtaining a short-term rental license, but instead, it means registering with the proper tax authorities. Not only will rental owners need to register with the state, but also the local jurisdiction where the property is located.
Step 2 is pretty self-explanatory; simply being collecting taxes from guests. The most common issue with this step is not a failure to collect taxes, but instead, it is mistakenly collecting taxes twice. For example, when a property owner utilizes OTA sites like Airbnb, the sales tax will already be applied to the payment. In this case, the property owner does not need to collect the state tax since it has already been done.
Step 3 is simply to file the sales tax return. The state sales tax returns have three separate due dates (and local tax returns are typically due on the same day):
- Annually: Due the 20th of January
- Quarterly: Due the 20th of the month following the close of the quarter
- Monthly: Due the 20th of the month following the close of the filing period
Keep in mind that there is a lot of organization involved, especially if rental owners hope for their stress levels to remain at bay come tax time. Hiring a tax expert who understands things like country tourist development and tourist development tax will save a lot of time – not to mention stress – when filing short-term rental taxes.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Las Vegas, Nevada
Just about everything goes in Sin City, but are vacation rentals legal in Las Vegas? Believe it or not, dropping money on fancy vacation homes is one vice that can’t be quenched in the desert oasis of mischief. Vacation rentals here may be illegal but there are ways for hosts and top vacation rental sites to get around these restrictions. Also, there are some key distinctions surrounding the city limits of Vegas that play a huge role. We explore the laws in place below:
Las Vegas versus Unincorporated Land
One of the main points of confusion when it comes to the legality of vacation rentals in the Las Vegas area is that the whole of Las Vegas is a part of Clark County Nevada. However, many of the things we associate, as “Vegas” are not actually a part of the city of Las Vegas. Instead, they are a part of Unincorporated Clark County. The unincorporated land essentially splits Las Vegas right down the middle, making a north and south portion of the city. In the middle, the unincorporated piece is where visitors find the Las Vegas Strip, McCarran International Airport, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and the Las Vegas Convention Center. This area is also often called Paradise or Winchester.
So, the majority of well-known tourist attractions are not in Las Vegas but actually in Paradise. Not many people know this though because Paradise is unincorporated and all of the addresses for business and residences still have a default Las Vegas zip code. This split happened in 1950 to help alleviate Vegas’s growing debt by expanding the town’s tax base. This also means The Strip, and the residents in the area, get government services from the county and not the city.
What Laws Are in Place?
To be more specific with our statement that vacation rentals are illegal in Las Vegas, short-term vacation rentals are illegal on unincorporated Clark County land. Including the unincorporated piece that includes The Strip and the area around The Strip, the epicenter of life, culture, and travel in Vegas.
The law defines a short-term rental as any residential property that is rented for a duration of 30 days or less. Since 1998 Clark County has a law that forbids the rental of a property for 30 consecutive days or less in the unincorporated areas of Clark County.
Ways to Rent Your Property
A year after the original law was enacted though, a second law went into effect. This municipal code states that any “transient lodging” business must apply and acquire a license to operate the said business. This license costs $300 per year and does not include the short-term rental tax issued by the county.
While this may seem like a bummer for any hopes of renting a property, it actually does open a gateway to potentially finding and/or listing a property within the Paradise area. This is important, as all the attractions Las Vegas is known for are located in this part of town, so most renters are not going to be looking as often within the city limits of actual Las Vegas.
Some 10,000 properties are currently listed in Las Vegas. According to data used by Clark County from 2015 to 2017, as many as 4,000 properties listed could have been illegal operations. Although, the county admitted this is only an estimate because their data did not distinguish between Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County.
Why is There a Vacation Rental Crackdown?
There are many reasons that Clark County and Las Vegas may have felt the need to crack down on vacation rentals in the area around the Las Vegas Strip. One reason is business. The Strip is, more than anything, a street of hotels. Everything about Las Vegas begins with the idea that people arrive, stay in a hotel, play in the hotel’s casino, admire other hotels, and spend more money there as well. A thriving vacation rental market endangers the backbone of the city. That backbone of Las Vegas is tourism, as a city built in a barren desert does not have many other ways to make money.
There is also a concern for some 900,000 permanent residents in the area. The Strip is rowdy. And many people come to Las Vegas with the goal of partying to great excess. The county and city would like to keep that activity contained to the areas around the Strip and Fremont Street. If vacation rentals were to be completely legalized the fear is that the hustle and bustle are going to spill into otherwise calm neighborhoods; causing loud music, trash, and potentially lots of traffic in residential areas.
Vacation rentals also drive general rental prices skyward. Folks who live in Las Vegas by renting rather than owning property would experience an increase in rent, making the city harder to live in.
Penalties for Vacation Rentals
Since these laws are upwards of 20 years old, the regulations are not new. What is new is the success of sites like Airbnb. Subsequently, the more recent crackdown is being seen through penalties and investigations. In 2017, Clark County saw a 640% increase in the number of properties being investigated for violating the short term rental ordinance. Properties found guilty are charged $1,000 per day for every day that they are out of compliance. There is even a hotline for citizens to report homes in their neighborhood that they believe are operating as an illegal short-term vacation rental.
A look through any vacation rental site, whether Airbnb, AllTheRooms, or HomeAway, will show that there are still plenty of options. It is unlikely that all of these are perfectly legal but for visitors to Las Vegas, it is unlikely that they experience any disruption by renting a vacation home. All penalties are directed towards property owners, not those that stay there. It is also very unlikely that any property under investigation would continue to rent and be subject to immediate shutdown.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Arlington, Texas
Arlington City Council has spent years debating what to do with short-term vacation rentals in Arlington, TX. On the one hand, short-term rentals have proven to be really beneficial to homeowners who are looking to make some extra money, pay their mortgage, and cash-in on the area’s growing tourism. On the other hand, local residents say that short-term rentals cause a disruption to their neighborhoods and local life as they bring more cars, an influx of strangers, and sometimes disruptive and disrespectful guests who are looking to party in Arlington on weekends.
After extensive discussions, the city has ruled in favor of local residents looking to preserve their neighborhoods and this year, in 2019, the council has started to impose restrictions on Airbnbs and short-term rentals.
There’s plenty to do in Arlington — the area is best known for its proximity to the highly popular Six Flags Over Texas theme park and it’s also one of the region’s main sports hubs. For many travelers, it’s known as a great base for those wanting to see the best of the neighboring cities of Fort Worth and Dallas.
These are some of the main reasons why there has been such a large, emerging demand for vacation rentals in the area, as families and groups are often looking to cut costs and stay in vacation rentals that often work out to be much cheaper than hotels.
Some local residents claim they feel scared for their children’s safety, due to the influx of strangers coming to stay in short-term rentals in local neighborhoods. Others complain of vacation-goers having constant parties in local neighborhoods and their children being kept awake by the noise all night long. For some, the main problem is parking, as many locals claim that there are more cars parked in residential areas due to short-term rentals. Concerns have also been voiced on the impact the short-term rental industry is having on Texas’ hotel industry.
Short-Term Rental Ban
Following years of discussions, in April 2019, Arlington Council voted to ban Airbnb and short-term rentals in the city, with a small exception for properties surrounding the entertainment district, which fall into an ‘approved short-term rental zone’. The entertainment zone includes properties close to Six Flags Over Texas, Globe Life Park, and the AT&T Stadium. The specific boundaries are set to run from Lamar Boulevard to the north, State Highway 360 on the east, East Abrams Street to the south and Center Street to the west.
The policy will require homeowners in the approved ‘short-term rental zone’ to apply for an annual permit if they wish to operate a short-term vacation rental.
At the time of the decision, it was said that applications to list as a host would cost $500, and applicants would need to meet safety measures before being approved. There will also be occupancy restrictions in place, with a maximum capacity of people allowed in any one short-term rental.
It’s a win for residents who have complained about noise, but it’s a big loss for locals who have invested in upgrading their property for the purpose of running a short-term rental business or those who have invested in a property with the idea to list it as a short-term rental.
Big Impact on the Short-Term Rental Business For Locals
These changes affect the majority of Arlington’s short-term rental operators, as a large proportion of properties listed on sites such as Airbnb and VRBO are in residential areas. Many locals operate short-term rentals in a responsible way and want the chance to cash-in on the tourism industry, especially when hotels are sold-out due to large sporting events, of which many take place in Arlington.
According to figures released by Airbnb in 2018, homeowners in North Texas earned $64 million in supplemental income in 2018, with the typical host earning $6,800 for the year, through the short-term rental business. All in all, it’s a big loss for short-term rental hosts in Arlington.
Meanwhile, in other nearby North Texan cities such as Fort Worth, there are also restrictions in place. Equally, there’s friction between local residents who want the chance to be responsible hosts and make money from their properties through short-term rental businesses, versus locals who feel short-term rentals cause significant disruption to life in the city’s residential areas.
According to the latest regulations, Airbnbs and other short-term rentals are not allowed in Fort Worth’s residential areas. Short-term rentals are permitted in commercial and industrial areas, where there is a mixture of housing and businesses. While there’s a law in place, it’s currently only being enforced loosely.
So how should cities regulate short-term rentals? It’s a hard question to answer. On the one hand, homeowners should be able to make a profit on growing tourism, but on the other, short-term rentals shouldn’t be causing such a level of disruption to local life in residential areas.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Forth Worth, Texas
Fort Worth is the fifth-largest city in the state of Texas and it’s a popular choice for vacation rentals thanks to the area’s activities. With access to a Six Flags theme park, Fort Worth Zoo, and great museums, it’s easy to see why.
With busy vacation spots comes greater demand for vacation rental homes, and in turn, this causes problems for locals who experience rising rental prices and housing shortages. As with many cities around the world, Fort Worth has also begun clamping down on Airbnb and short-term rental laws. Here are the latest on the Airbnb regulations in Fort Worth.
Popularity and Disruption
While there’s plenty to do in Fort Worth, it also draws a large crowd of people who are looking to rent houses and party on the weekend. This has been causing a stir with locals, who feel that these types of ‘party guests’ are causing a lot of disruption to the local neighborhoods. The area is becoming more frequently used for short-term rentals, and locals are worried that it will continue this way and cause significant change to the area.
Income Boost For Locals
Meanwhile, some locals want to cash-in on the area’s popularity and offer value accommodation to travelers coming to town. For many, offering their property as a short-term rental is a great way to boost income, help pay the mortgage, and cash-in on the growing tourism industry.
The Latest Laws
Under new regulations, Airbnbs, and other short-term home rentals are not allowed in Fort Worth’s residential areas.
Instead, short-term rentals are permitted in commercial and industrial areas, where there is a mixture of housing and businesses. While this is the rule of thumb, many homeowners ignore the regulations and offer their home as a short-term rental regardless.
As with many cities in the US, in Fort Worth, a short-term rental is defined as a rental period of under 30 days.
Is the Law Enforced?
In Fort Worth, the law is only loosely enforced. Owners of short-term rentals don’t have to register with the city — making it hard to know how many short-term rentals are in operation, and if homeowners running short-term rentals are properly paying their taxes on the extra income.
Where Are the Most Short-Term Rentals in Fort Worth?
There are a lot of short-term rentals around Downtown or on the edge of neighborhoods in the official zoning areas. There’s also an increasing amount of short-term rentals appearing in residential areas, despite the regulations.
Regulations in Nearby Dallas
In nearby Dallas, which is also a hotbed for vacation rentals, there are no short-term rental regulations, meaning that Fort Worth is demonstrating a stricter policy.
Overall, Fort Worth’s Airbnb regulations are light compared to other cities in the world. In New York City, for example, Airbnbs and short-term rentals (which is defined as a rental period of under 30 days) are strictly illegal. Plus, there’s a large law enforcement team cracking down on illegal short-term rentals. In Fort Worth, while there are regulations in place, they are not being strictly enforced and many homeowners continue to go against the rules.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in New York City, New York
In recent years, New York City has seriously clamped down on short-term vacation rentals. Since the arrival of vacation rental platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway, it’s become increasingly difficult to control rent prices in major cities around the world, and the cost of rentals has skyrocketed.
There’s undeniably a high demand for short-term rentals in NYC, as tourists often just want to stay for a few days and have the privacy of their own apartment during their time in the city. This has aggravated the rental industry as for landlords or tenants it’s much more profitable to rent your apartment for a few days at a time than it is to rent long term.
Cities around the United States, such as San Francisco — and worldwide, such as Barcelona and Paris — have implemented similar measures in a bid to control inflating rent prices and make things easier for the city and its residents. So are vacation rentals legal in NYC? It depends on how long they are being rented for. Here’s the lowdown.
The 30-Day Rule
City laws dictate that it is illegal to rent an apartment, condo, or co-op for a period of fewer than 30 days — unless the owner is also present during the short-term rental period. This law covers apartments, condos, and co-ops that are in buildings that have three or more residential units, which is known as ‘multiple dwelling’ in state law. The exception is that if you’re the landlord of the entire building, the rules are different, but for the average apartment owner or tenant, you can’t rent the whole apartment unless it’s for a long-term period of more than 30 days.
New Yorkers can be present in their apartment during short-term stays so they can, therefore, rent rooms to short-term guests and make extra cash on the side. Rooms in occupied apartments can be rented for short stays of as little as one day. The downside is that the tenant, or owner, has to be present during the guest’s stay — something which isn’t ideal for a homeowner looking to make extra cash from an empty apartment. Equally, it’s not ideal for the person on vacation who wants privacy.
Over the past months, there have been raids on illegal home rentals that have been reported, making it into the mainstream news. In November 2018, the city’s Airbnb enforcement officials conducted one of their largest raids to date on a group of West Side luxury condos, some of which were being illegally rented as short-term rentals. It was reported that almost two dozen of the condo owners received violation orders. The city is really clamping down on illegal short-term rental activity and it’s making demonstrations to show that it will not tolerate illegal activity or homeowners that disregard the law. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is fully behind the clamp down.
In other cities in the country, such as San Francisco, listings on sites such as Airbnb plummeted once similar state law was enforced in 2018. Listings on Airbnb almost halved following the laws that were introduced whereby homeowners had to register their homes with the city for a $250 fee, with fines as high as $1,000 a day if they did not. If a homeowner is not present, they can only rent their home for a maximum of 90 days per year.
Going Against the Law
Regardless of the law, many homeowners and tenants continue to illegally rent their homes. For them, the possibility of high profit outweighs the risk of a fine. As a tourist renting an apartment short-term, the risk is the possibility that you could be kicked out of the apartment mid-stay if someone tells officials about what’s going on. Maybe it could be a doorman in a bad mood, or a jilted lover, or neighbor — it’s not unheard of that New Yorkers are turning on fellow New Yorkers for taking part in illegal short-term rentals. So while there are still plenty of listings on Airbnb, HomeAway, and other vacation rental platforms, it’s best to steer clear and find a hotel, aparthotel, or a spare room in an occupied apartment — it’s not worth risking your holiday!
Short-Term Rental Popularity
It’s easy to see why renting an apartment in NYC for a short period of time is so tempting. Not only do you feel like a local when you stay in an apartment, but you can save a lot of money by not having to eat out all the time. You can cook your meals, lounge around as you please, and stay in more affordable neighborhoods. The hotel industry is always booming in NYC, but for many travelers, there’s something much more appealing about staying in an apartment, especially when hotels in New York are notoriously expensive.
What Are Your Other Options?
If you’re set on the idea of having a private apartment to yourself, look at sites such as AllTheRooms and Booking.com which list plenty of apart-hotels. These normally come with their own kitchenette, living-room area, and the privacy that you’re looking for. Suite hotels are also a good option for that extra sense of privacy. Other than that, you might have to accept paying for a hotel or stay in a room in an apartment with the owner or tenant present.
Be careful of using sites such as Craigslist — while you can find great rental deals there are also plenty of scams. These come mainly in the form of fake listings and oblivious vacationers who transfer a security deposit to the fraudster and lose a lot of money. Many have experienced a holiday-destroying moment when they’ve turned up to find out that the property they think they’re staying in doesn’t even exist, or that the homeowner had no idea they were coming and had to turn them away. Be sure to check out tips to avoid being scammed with a vacation rental on Craigslist.
Consider a Time Share
If you’re a regular in New York and really want your own space when visiting, what about considering an investment in a timeshare? You’ll get access to a private apartment for a few weeks of the year — it’s a good way of getting around the short-term let rule.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in San Diego, California
In the past two years, San Diego has started taking steps to tighten its short-term regulation laws. Cities all around the US and the world are clamping down on the short-term vacation rental industry — as while it’s great for tourists’ pockets, it’s seriously impacting the long-term rental market for local residents. In the past, San Diego has had almost no short-term rental laws, however, there have been plenty of discussions and debates emerging since 2018 on how to regulate the industry.
The city has been debating putting in place a series of strict rules on the short-term vacation rental industry. Here’s the lowdown on the recently proposed changes that could be coming into play and the impact this may have on the city:
Vacation rentals are more popular than ever as they offer a cheap alternative to hotels. They also offer more space, communal areas such as living rooms and kitchens, and a greater sense of privacy. For many travelers visiting San Diego, a nice apartment near the beach, where they can save some money and cook for themselves, is a more appealing option than a hotel. The high demand for short-term vacation rentals in the San Diego area has been met by locals looking to cash-in on the industry and rent their property to travelers.
Impact on the Local Community
In turn, the short-term rental industry is causing inflation for long-term residents. This is because landlords in San Diego can make a lot more money through renting their property on platforms such as Airbnb for short periods of time, than they can by renting their property to long-term residents. This means that prices for long-term residents have been going up. San Diego is also experiencing a serious housing shortage — and the short-term vacation rental industry is exacerbating the problem.
There are additionally many locals who feel the short-term vacation rental industry is causing disruption to their neighborhoods. Some of the main reasons listed include the influx of strangers, cars, and noise.
San Diego Set to Tighten-Up Regulations
With the aim to commence in 2019, the city of San Diego is set to impose new regulations on Airbnb and similar short-term rental platforms such as HomeAway and Vrbo.
Under the proposed regulations, short-term rentals will only be allowed in a homeowner’s primary residence. This means that a homeowner or business owner cannot list their second home as a short-term rental — which is set to make a big difference to the short-term rental landscapes, with thousands of properties being made unlistable overnight.
‘Six Month or More’ Rule
There have been a variety of suggestions about the length of time to curtail short-term rentals. These include proposing that a homeowner can rent their primary residence as a short-term rental for a maximum of six months of the year, or that a homeowner needs to be present for a minimum of 270 nights per year.
There are also ideas in the recent Assembly Bill 1731 (that is currently being debated) which suggest that if the property’s owner doesn’t live in the property, they can only rent it for a maximum of 30 days per year. Whatever the decision, the outcome will be that the short-term rental industry is hugely impacted from the proposed restrictions.
It has been suggested that the coast and other tourist-hotspots will be required to have a minimum of three days stay in the properties. In the popular area of Mission Beach, for example, it’s estimated that almost 40% of properties are being used as short-term rentals, which is having a big effect on the local community.
Licensing and Fees
All homeowners could be required to pay an annual fee of $949 for a short-term rental license — regardless of how long the homeowner wishes to rent their property for. The high fee is predicted to deter many homeowners offering their property as a short-term rental, because if they only want to rent their property for a few days every now and then, it isn’t financially worthwhile. If the fee passes, it will be one of the highest annual short-term rental license fees in the US.
Local Fee Towards Affordable Housing
Under the proposed plans, hosts will be required to pay a small fee of around $3 per short-term stay, which will go back into the local community to provide affordable housing. It’s one of the most forward-thinking short-term vacation rental policy suggestions to date, with not many other cities offering support to the local community through its regulations.
The city plans to clamp down on enforcing the new regulations by hiring more officers to identify first-time and repeat offenders.
San Diego has had a relaxed take on the short-term vacation rental industry, and in the past, it has not had any official form of regulation. When the rules are put firmly in place, it will be a big change to the city’s vacation rental landscape.
Platforms and hosts would be responsible for signing up to tax transparency, collecting tax from guests, and reporting their earnings to the local council. While the details haven’t been fixed or agreed on yet, the proposed plans and constant debates show that San Diego is going in a much stricter direction.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Kissimmee, Florida
As with many cities in the U.S, Kissimmee, Florida, is another popular tourist destination that’s battling against the forces of the growing short-term vacation rental industry. The city, which lies south of Orlando, is best known for its proximity to the Walt Disney World Resort, alongside many other popular theme parks.
Hotels near Disney World are often very expensive — so it’s easy to see why so many families and groups of friends are willing to opt for a vacation rental instead. Vacation rentals can often work-out to be substantially cheaper than hotel accommodation and they usually provide more space for families to spread out.
As a result of the area’s popularity for tourism, more and more vacation rentals have been emerging in Kissimmee — and locals are split as to whether this is a good thing or not.
In addition to Walt Disney World, Kissimmee is home to other theme parks such as SeaWorld Orlando, Gatorland, Discovery Cove, and Legoland. Florida, in general, is one of the most sought-after vacation rental spots in the country thanks to its beaches, cities, theme parks, and golf courses. This means it’s a state with tons of vacation rentals. At present, there are state-wide regulations in place to regulate the vacation rental industry in Florida. Here’s what hosts need to know:
Locals Cashing In On Tourism
Tons of Kissimmee locals make the most of the opportunity to cash in on the area’s demand for short-term rentals. Short-term rentals have proven to be really beneficial to homeowners who are looking to make some extra money through their property, contribute to mortgage repayments, and make extra revenue from the area’s tourism. As Kissimmee is in Florida, and Florida is a vacation-state, locals tend to be more open-minded to vacation rentals than in other states.
That said, there are many locals who feel the short-term rental industry damages their local neighborhood. The main reasons cited include disruptive guests staying in short-term rentals with the intention to party, an influx of cars, and strangers.
Striking a Balance
For officials around the country, the hard part is deciding where the balance lies — strict regulations on vacation rentals can damage local business and the pockets of many locals, whereas disruption in local, residential neighborhoods is equally unfair on many inhabitants at the same time.
Short-Term Rental Friendly
Generally, Kissimmee is more open-minded to short-term vacation rentals than many other cities in the US, of which some have strict laws.
Vacation Rentals Rules in Florida
If you’re operating a vacation rental in any part of Florida, there are a few things homeowners need to do:
Homeowners renting out their property as a short-term rental need to request a lodging license. Some homeowners will need multiple licenses, applied to the state, the country, and the city. Fines can be hefty if this is not done properly.
Health and Safety Requirements
All short-term rentals must meet health and safety requirements and these requirements vary depending on the property type and size. Some of the main rules and regulations in Kissimmee surround specifying minimum construction, design, and maintenance standards for buildings. They have to be checked for their habitability, health, and safety and have certain features in place including working smoke alarms.
Short-Term Rental District
Kissimmee is home to tons of vacation rentals and the city is fairly lax with rules due to its long-existing vacation rental culture. Generally, short-term rentals are supposed to be confined to specifically outlined districts, which are concentrated in two zones. These districts are known as the Western District, which is closest to major attractions, and the Eastern District, which is close to Florida’s turnpike, which is a popular toll road.
However, as the city is relatively short-term-rental-friendly, a homeowner can try to apply for permissions if they are outside the designated short-term rental zones. Occasionally, a homeowner can strike lucky and be awarded a conditional use permit from the City of Kissimmee Planning Division, depending on various factors.
One of the most important things to bear in mind is that homeowners may be responsible for paying taxes on their short-term rental income. Some platforms do collect tax, but each homeowner needs to check that they are paying the correct amount according to local rules and property type.
If a local is listing their property on Airbnb, for example, they will need to apply for and obtain a business tax receipt for short-term rentals. The policy varies depending on the platform.
Definition of Short-Term Rental
In Kissimmee, a short-term rental is defined as anything below a period of six months.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in San Francisco, California
When it comes to the online vacation rental market, you wouldn’t be mistaken to claim it all started in San Francisco. In 2008, roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia founded Airbnb by initially renting an air mattress in their living room to help pay the rent. Now, only 11 years later, their company’s common stock is valued at more than $35 billion. They also employ 12,700 plus people, a large number of whom work in San Francisco.
Ironically, instead of celebrating Airbnb’s innovation, San Francisco was one of the first cities to implement harsh regulations against the short-term vacation rental giant — which has now become a recurring trend across large cities and tourism markets. While many of the Airbnb regulations in San Francisco have been in effect since 2017, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date as a host.
Various regulations have been flowing into the Bay Area since 2014. However, today’s laws and regulations were agreed upon by Airbnb and the City of San Francisco in April 2017.
Originally in 2014, the city attempted to restrict short-term rentals to 90 days per year for anyone renting out a non-primary residence. San Francisco decided to increase regulations in 2015 by introducing a complicated registration process. That’s when things got heated. Hosts in the city accrued over a million dollars in fines and Airbnb quickly responded with a lawsuit.
After some time, the two parties settled. The city introduced new vacation rental and Airbnb regulations in 2017. Nonetheless, now hosts can bypass much of the bureaucratic headache involved with registering by using portals on Airbnb’s website.
San Francisco Market
Despite the registration portal, the regulations had an immediate impact. When the new licensing regulations went into effect, the San Francisco market lost almost 50% of all its listings on Airbnb. The site admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle that once the regulations were active, it lost around 4,750 properties of the 10,000 that were previously listed.
Listing numbers have since stabilized but this reactionary plummet has taken place in other big markets too, including Paris. The trend of hosts fleeing online platforms is a response to potential fines. When the 2017 short-term vacation rental regulations in San Francisco went active, hosts had to pay $250 to register their property or face a fine of $1,000 each day the rental was unregistered.
Like most big markets that now regulate Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms, many in the community worry that more Airbnbs mean fewer long-term rentals for those actually living in the city. People also believe sites like Airbnb could bring about the end of what little affordable housing is left in a city like San Francisco. Airbnb, however, has released numerous statements assuring their commitment to benefitting communities they are in by supporting local businesses and driving tourism to lesser-visited areas.
In order to operate a vacation rental, hosts must acquire both a Business Registration Certificate and a Short-Term Residential Rental Certificate. To apply for the Business Registration Certificate, hosts can go to the San Francisco Treasurer and Tax Collector’s online portal. These must be renewed yearly. Meanwhile, the Short-Term Residential Rental Certificate is awarded by San Francisco’s Office of Short-Term Rentals. Short-term rental certificates are only valid for two years. The first is essential for all property managers, whereas the second is mandatory for anyone hoping to start or continue hosting on an online platform.
Hosts in San Francisco must pay taxes on their rental properties. San Francisco imposes a steep 14% Transient Occupancy Tax. Each booking under 30 days must pay this tax. Only hosts earning more than $40,000 per year from their property need to pay this tax on a monthly basis.
Hosting Eligibility and Requirements
For starters, hosts can only operate one listing at a time. That listing must be a primary residence. Hosts must be in their rental for at least 275 days per year. Owners who have purchased their home for less than a year may only rent the home if they have occupied the new property for 75% of the days since purchase.
Additionally, any host that has guests in their home for more than 90 days (while the host is not present) must pay fines. First-time offenders must pay $484 per day, while those with multiple violations are charged $968 per day over the allotted 90.
Those who own a rent-controlled unit may rent it on Airbnb but there are limits on how much that host can charge per guest.
It’s also worth noting that hosts must have at least $500,000 of liability insurance. Anyone operating on Airbnb is given Airbnb’s $1 million coverage, which satisfies the insurance requirement. However, if a host operates on another platform, in addition to Airbnb, then the Airbnb coverage does not apply.
All Airbnbs must be up to date and compliant to all San Francisco Building and Housing Standards. Some older properties may not qualify; anyone in doubt should consult the city’s Building Department. Non-permanent dwellings like tents and RVs are not able to be rented.
Equally important, hosts must submit quarterly reports to the Office of Short Term Rentals. According to the city’s Administrative Code, hosts must keep constant and accurate records, and the Office of Short Term Rentals may ask to see these to monitor a host’s continued compliance with various short-term rental laws.
Aside from having their short-term rental certificate number visible, vacation rental owners are also required to post safety information inside of their rental units. These include fire extinguisher locations, evacuation plans, and gas shutoffs.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Los Angeles, California
As of July 1st, 2019 a number of new regulations targeted at vacation rental businesses were instituted in Los Angeles by the city’s planning department and government. While these new Airbnb regulations in LA are not immediately detrimental to the vacation rental industry, there are some very important requirements that hosts and property managers should be aware of.
The Los Angeles Market
Any tweak to the rules and regulations governing the Los Angeles market are going to have a massive impact on Airbnb, numerous hosts, and the vacation rental space in general. This is because LA is an undeniably important tourism hotspot. In 2018, the West Coast giant set a city record for tourists, as over 50 million people made their way to the City of Angels.
The Airbnb community has responded to this massive tourism economy and the number of units for short-term rentals has been skyrocketing. At the last estimate, there were around 23,000 housing units that were available on vacation rental websites and platforms. Of those 23,000, around 10,000 units are used exclusively as short-term rentals.
The city’s successful attempt to add regulations comes in response to those who have complained that having so many units on Airbnb and other platforms is reducing the number of affordable homes in LA. And in a city where housing and space are at a premium, some regard Airbnb’s rise as a major issue.
The new regulations were passed into law by the city of Los Angeles at the end of 2018, but are now officially in effect. Perhaps the most important one for hosts to know is that all hosts must now register with the city. This registration is coupled with an $89 fee paid directly to the city. Come November 1, 2019, the city’s officials will begin enforcing this new law. Any host that is not registered could be facing hefty fines. This rule has the most widespread relevancy to hosts in LA, however, there are others.
Another drastically crucial rule to be aware of concerns hosts operating multiple properties. This is no longer possible. Now, hosts can only register one property in the city at a time. This registered property must also be the host’s primary residence, meaning the host must live there for at least six months per year. Additionally, even if the host owns their unit outright, a property’s rental period is capped at 120 days per year. Hosts face fines if they rent a unit for any longer.
Property owners can apply for an “extended home-sharing” designation, however, this comes with its own hurdles and fees. If granted, a host can operate an Airbnb for more than 120 days annually. To get the city’s approval, the unit must have been registered previously with the city for a minimum of six months and the owner/property must have hosted guests for 60 days. Hosts must pay an $850 fee to qualify.
Finally, any host that has received a warning within the last three years for not following the other regulations will be disqualified from consideration. That said, hosts with these citations can have their disqualification waved if they pay to have their case reviewed. This fee is upwards of $5,600.
For any long-term renters hoping to become hosts of a property they do not own, must first receive a written letter of approval from their landlord.
While establishing these new regulations, the city made sure to cater to some of the sensitivities raised by those against the growing vacation rental presence. Specifically, they paid attention to affordable housing. Now, any property that has been “stabilized” (another term for rent control), can no longer be used as a short-term vacation rental or Airbnb.
There is some bad news for urban glampers though. The city now strictly prohibits any non-residential building or a temporary structure from being used as a rental. This includes sheds, yurts, trailers, converted vans, tents, etc.
Finally, all hosts must provide guests with a Code of Conduct, not unlike a guest manifesto. This code pays special attention to loud noise at night.
Potential Legal Battle
These new regulations are not without a backlash. The California Coastal Commission is considering taking the city of Los Angeles to court. The California Coastal Commission represents certain coastal communities to attempt to protect the rights of property owners. They also help regulate hotels and rental properties in their neighborhoods.
Their argument is that these new Airbnb regulations in LA have violated the Coastal Act. The act has been active since 1976 and protects the Coastal Commission’s responsibilities.
The official ordinances can be read here.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Boston, Massachusetts
The vacation rental market is booming. And with this massive growth, some people are seeking ways to foster the expansion of Airbnb and vacation rentals, while others are hoping to reign in the revenues. Much like the new Airbnb regulations in Los Angeles, Boston faces similar rules that went into effect in 2019. These Airbnb regulations in Boston are a must-know for any host operating a vacation rental in the area.
It should be noted that the Boston vacation rental market has seen the implementation of two separate short-term rental ordinances. The first, which went into effect on the first day of the year, was a Boston-specific law. It requires all hosts in the city to register their short-term rental with the city of Boston. Meanwhile, effective as of July 1, a similar registration law requiring registration statewide hit vacation rental hosts and Airbnb hosts. So besides Boston, it hit other big tourism markets, including all of the Airbnbs in Cape Cod.
Problems with the Boston Ordinance
On January 1, 2019, the most straightforward of regulations went into effect in the Boston area. According to the new law, all short-term vacation rentals must be registered with the city.
However, the follow-through has been less than straightforward. As of April, more than 90 days after the implantation of the regulation, the city reported that they had only received 150 registration applications.
Property managers and any businesses operating a short-term rental that is not registered are looking at potentially harsh reprimands. Companies that have unregistered rentals up on platforms must cease operations or face a $300 fine per night per unit. Hosts who rent individual units within larger properties face similar penalties if they do not register.
Some people have pointed at the delays in registration as an effect of a lawsuit made by Airbnb. This response by the vacation rental giant was filed directly against the City of Boston.
Boston contends that these new regulations protect their housing market. By restricting platforms like Airbnb, the city believes it will keep some housing affordable. Whereas if the vacation rental market can grow without impediments, Boston believes investors, not homeowners, will buy the majority of property and drive prices up and locals out.
Airbnb, on the other hand, argues that these laws are less about the community and more of an attack on free business practices. While Airbnb stayed quiet on the litigation, one release went as far as demeaning the regulations by calling them “Orwellian” — implying that the city is engaging in “Big Brother” like tactics. However, their main argument says the regulations violate federal law, which protects online companies from being held accountable for the actions of their users. They state that it is unreasonable for the city to expect them to police users.
These lawsuits are not unique to Boston. Cities like San Francisco, New York, and others have also gotten into legal battles. Unfortunately for Airbnb aficionados, the company’s legal actions have been met with an underwhelming win percentage.
Other New Massachusetts Regulations
While much of the focus of these new Airbnb regulations in Boston and Massachusetts has been centered on the registration requirements, there are others that hosts should know.
Now, Airbnb, and other platforms like VRBO, will be responsible for paying a 5.7 percent state tax. This is the same amount that hotels are required to pay.
Fortunately for some hosts, though, this is only required of people who rent their property more than 14 days per year. For those who rent 14 days or less, they are not required to register their property with the state or city of operation.
The Massachusetts vacation rental regulations also allow cities to levy taxes. That means they can charge higher tax rates than the 5.7 standard percentage across Massachusetts. For example, Boston can charge up to 6.5% tax on the properties operating for more than 14 days.
August 2019 Update
On August 29th Airbnb and the city of Boston reached a settlement over their feud. While it is being called an agreed upon solution, most of the laws that were put in place are staying. Hosts will still need to register, face fines if they don’t, and pay a registration fee annually. With this agreement, all registered properties in Boston must also display their city-given identification number on their listing pages. Any listing that is not registered or not in compliance with the city ordinances in any way must now be taken down by Airbnb. December 1, 2019 is the new deadline for hosts to get the appropriate registrations in place. As a part of this agreement Airbnb will now also be providing data to Boston on property URLs, listing zip codes, and host IDs.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Lake Tahoe, California
To an outsider, the California stereotype has always been beaches and sunshine. People forget that it is also a world-class mountain destination, and the gem of the Eastern Sierra Mountains is easily Lake Tahoe. Even people living next to the ocean go to Tahoe for an escape.
Earning the status of being one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country’s most populated state comes with increased visibility for tourism operators. This includes vacation rental hosts. Unlike many cities battling with Airbnb and other platforms, many of the homes in and around Tahoe are not permanent residences, and owning a home has never been an easily affordable option.
And yet, South Lake Tahoe, the area’s biggest city, is entrenched in a legal battle over Airbnb. Beyond that, the community itself is deeply divided. It may be a while until all of the Airbnb regulations in Lake Tahoe are officially ironed out, but until then, here are the things that hosts need to know.
South Lake Tahoe’s Measure T was passed in their November 2018 elections. The measure left it up to the people whether or not they want to limit the expansion of home vacation rentals. The measure also aimed not only to holster growth but to reel back pre-existing rental properties.
While it passed on the ballot, it was by no means an overwhelming result. Part of the continued controversy in the South Lake Tahoe market is due to the fact that it was a narrow margin of victory. ‘The ‘yes’ vote overcame ‘no’ by only 58 votes: 3,517 to 3,459.
While most cities that have implemented regulations for the vacation rental market have supported restricting companies like Airbnb, South Lake Tahoe’s government was not shy in opposing the measure. While they were never explicit in their opposition, they often made statements pointing to the potential economic impact it would have on the town. If and when Measure T is officially implemented, city officials predict that it could reduce South Lake Tahoe’s tax revenues anywhere between three and four million dollars annually.
What Measure T Could Entail
Measure T would not be fully implemented until December 2021, however, this is partially due to the massive amounts of scaling back that would need to take place.
The most disruptive regulation introduced will restrict the locations of vacation rentals. If everything outlined in Measure T holds, only homes in commercial areas will be available to rent. All other properties in residential neighborhoods will be taken off the short-term vacation rental market. Of the over 1,700 properties listed in South Lake Tahoe, an estimated 80% will no longer be legal to rent.
Measure T was put on the ballot primarily because of a citizen-inspired movement. Residents felt that the presence of vacation rentals are a nuisance to otherwise quiet neighborhoods. On the other side of the issue, residents opposed to T worry that tourism revenues will be driven to other towns around the lake.
Measure T could, however, alleviate some ordinances put in place the year prior that were aimed at these “nuisances”. This includes not allowing renters to park on the streets as well as outlawing hot tub use between the hours of 10 pm and 8 am. Under those laws, those who broke the rules were eligible for fines between $1,000 and $2,000. After an outcry, fines were lessened, and most tickets associated with these laws are minor parking tickets. The rules surrounding parking and hot tub use could be a factor in discussions moving forward.
Leading the charge against Measure T is the South Lake Tahoe Property Owners Group, who has already filed a suit against the town. They worry that Measure T could decrease tourism which would then lead to the loss of local jobs and revenues that the town depends on.
Even if Measure T holds up for the long term, all property owners, regardless of location, will be granted 30 days per year to rent their properties; although, all properties may not exceed 12 guests for any singular booking.
Key Information for Hosts Moving Forward
Measure T should be treated as if it will stand. Most legal battles against imposed Airbnb regulations have not worked in Airbnb’s favor. Regardless of whether the measure stays or not, the phase-out of existing properties will still take another couple of years.
Until then, property managers must adhere to the regulations in place now. The most important thing to know is that all hosts are required to have both a business license and a vacation rental permit — both of which can be applied for directly with the city. All vacation rentals that operate for more than 30 days per year are also required to pay a yearly transient occupancy tax. Additionally, vacation rental properties must adhere to the local business and housing standards, which can be read about in the current city ordinances.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Calgary, Alberta
In recent months, the city of Calgary in Canada has started taking steps to tighten its short-term vacation rental regulation laws. Cities all around the world are clamping down on the short-term vacation rental industry — while short-term rentals are budget-friendly for travelers, and great for the pockets of local landlords, they are seriously impacting the long-term rental market for local residents.
The city of Calgary is in talks about putting in place new regulations, although the details are still being finalized. It would be a short-term rental by-law that impacts local home-owners listing their property. We take a look at the potential new short-term rental regulations in Calgary and the impact this would have on locals.
Calgary is a popular vacation destination best known as a cosmopolitan city with great museums, parks, and festivals. While it’s not as popular as destinations such as Toronto and Montreal, it still draws a large crowd of tourists. Many of whom are looking for budget accommodation.
Vacation Rental Popularity in Calgary
Vacation rentals are more popular than ever as they offer a cheap alternative to hotels or hostels. They also offer more space, communal areas such as living rooms and kitchens, and a greater sense of privacy. For many travelers visiting Calgary, a nice city apartment where they can save some money and cook for themselves, is a more appealing option than a hotel.
The high demand for short-term vacation rentals in the Calgary area has been met by locals looking to cash-in on the industry and rent their property to travelers. For many paying mortgages, it’s a great way to bring in an extra cash flow. At present, there are around 6,000 properties available for short-term rent in Calgary.
Impact on the Local Community
While the short-term rental industry is great for some landlords, in turn it’s causing inflation for long-term residents. This is because landlords in Calgary and cities around the world can make a lot more money through renting their property on platforms such as Airbnb for short periods of time, than they can by renting their property to long-term residents. This means that prices for long-term residents have been going up, which is exacerbating the global housing crisis.
Equally, many locals who feel the short-term vacation rental industry is causing disruption to their neighborhoods. Some of the main reasons listed include the influx of strangers, cars, and noise.
The Effect of Potential New Regulations
In September, a city committee heard feedback from those who would be affected by the bylaw, including Airbnb operators who said it’s unfair to treat their business like that of a hotel as they are operating on such a small scale.
While there are several thousands of listings in Calgary, there are relatively a lot less than in other Canadian cities such as Toronto or Montreal.
Rental Period Time-Cap
Those in charge of fixing the new regulations have been examining best-practices in Canada for a year and a half.
While the details are yet to be finalized, it’s likely that there will be a time-cap on how long a property can be used as a short-term rental. Some cities around the world have rules such as homeowners must be present in the property for a minimum of six months of the year, or that they cannot rent their property for more than three months of the year. They may also clamp down on rentals specifically in popular tourist areas or residential areas.
It’s likely that they will also look at possible safety regulations, for example, smoke detectors are considered voluntary in Calgary.
Many cities around the world are imposing new regulations, however enforcement is pretty lax at the moment.
Regulations in Toronto
As reported by the Canadian press, Toronto has announced a series of new proposed regulations for short term rentals. Toronto City Council define a short-term rental as a period of less than 28 days, and restricted to primary residences, which means a landlord is only allowed to list their property for short term rental if it’s the home you live in.
Additionally, an entire home can be rented out as a ‘short term’ rental (less than 28 consecutive days) for a maximum of 180 nights a year. This means that it’s more difficult for homeowners or tenants to list on home rental sites if they are managing a permanently empty property.
Regulations Around the World
Toronto is following in the lines of cities around the world such as New York and Singapore, which have strict rules in place to control the short-term rental market, however at present, Toronto’s regulations are much lighter than other cities.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Toronto, Ontario
Cities all around the world have been clamping down on the short-term rental industry, and Toronto is one of them. Since the arrival of vacation rental sites such as Airbnb and other vacation rental platforms, cities that are popular tourist destinations have found it increasingly difficult to control rent prices. This is because if you’re a landlord, you can make a lot more money by renting short-term than you can do by renting long-term. So, are short-term rentals allowed in Toronto? Here’s the lowdown:
Short-Term Rental Defined as 28 Days
As reported by the Canadian press, Toronto has announced a series of proposed regulations for short-term rentals. Toronto City Council defines a short-term rental as a period of fewer than 28 days. As a result, short-term rentals will only be permitted in primary residences, which means hosts are only allowed to list one property for short-term rental. In turns, landlords and homeowners who own multiple properties cannot rent a second property (or further properties) for a ‘short-term’ period through home rental sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway.
Additionally, an entire home can be rented out as a ‘short term’ rental (less than 28 consecutive days) for a maximum of 180 nights a year. This means that it’s more difficult for homeowners or tenants to list on home rental sites if they are managing a permanently empty property. Toronto is following in the lines of cities around the world such as New York and Singapore, which have strict rules in place to control the short-term rental market; however, at present, Toronto’s regulations are much lighter than other cities.
To take Singapore as an example, it’s illegal to list properties for a rental period of fewer than three months — making it one of the strictest cities in the world for the short-term vacation rental industry. New York also has strict laws surrounding short-term rentals, and it’s illegal to rent an apartment or condo there for less than 30 days, with very few exceptions to this rule.
Short-Term Rental Demand
Toronto is one of the top spots to visit in Canada, and a large percentage of tourists traveling to Toronto want to stay in short-term vacation rentals, as opposed to hotels. Landlords and tenants have been meeting this demand and this has aggravated the rental industry in major cities as it’s significantly more profitable to rent to tourists for a few days at a time than to rent to long-term city residents.
Registering Your Home
As with many cities around the world, if you want your home to be listed on Airbnb or similar home rental platforms short-term, you’ll have to officially register with the city of Toronto. The city is proposing an annual registration fee of $50 CAD for everyone who rents their place. Proposals state that if you don’t register, you are going against the law and could be fined up to several thousands of dollars.
Once you’ve registered, yourself, you, or your property, will be given an official registration number and this number will have to be disclosed on home rental platforms. Homeowners who are renting their property in a non-short-term capacity will not have to register under the new proposals.
How This Works
Under the proposals, once a property has been registered with the city as a short-term rental, the homeowners or tenants will need to provide the city of Toronto with an annual account of the number of nights their home was rented.
Going Against the Law
Under the proposed regulations, the city of Toronto will be investigating those who are not renting out their principal residence, and those who are violating the short-term rental bylaw. It’s said that homeowners may be prohibited from registering again for short-term rental and charged a fee.
Finding Short-Term Accommodation in Toronto
If you struggle to find short-term accommodation in Toronto due to the restrictions yet you want the privacy of an apartment for your short-term stay in Toronto, you can look at sites such as AllTheRooms and Booking.com who list apartment-hotels and hotel suites. These often feature their own kitchen or kitchenette, living-room area, and common area, so you can have the same type of privacy as if you were in your own place. As the rules aren’t that strict, however, you’ll likely still be able to find apartments or houses to rent for a short-term period of time. The only difference is there will be fewer listed.
Home sharing will be permitted under the regulations, with up to three rooms per household that can be individually rented out. This means hosts can rent up to three rooms in their apartment or house for less than 28 days without violating any laws. If appliances such as a fridge or stove are installed into the rooms, however, taking the form of a ‘secondary suite’, you can only rent rooms as such for over 28 days.
If vacation rental sites comply with the rules and the new laws are enforced, estimates suggest that around 6,500 homes could re-enter the market for those looking to rent long-term. This is great news for locals who are struggling to find a place to rent and are having to struggle against the rising cost of the rent. On the flipside, this is bad news for vacation rental sites and homeowners looking to maximize the money they can make by renting their property. As the regulations are much lighter than cities previously mentioned, such as New York and Singapore, only time will tell if there is a significant difference. The regulations are being appealed by homeowners in Toronto.
If, as predicted, thousands of homes do re-enter the market, this will make a big difference for thousands of families — in particular, those looking to rent long-term in a regulated environment. This is based on recent research done by Fairbnb, which is a collective of organizations calling for fair regulations for short-term rentals. Thorben Wieditz, a researcher for Fairbnb, said the report was made to update Toronto’s city council on the short-term rental situation.
Airbnb & Vacation Rental Regulations in Singapore
Singapore has some of the strictest Airbnb and home rental laws in the world. Cities across the globe have been clamping down on short-term rentals over the past few years, and since the arrival of vacation rental platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway, and other vacation rental sites, the world’s top cities have found it increasingly difficult to control rent prices. So, are short-term rentals illegal in Singapore? Here’s the lowdown.
Illegal Short Term Rentals
As it currently stands in May 2019, short-term rentals are illegal in Singapore — much to the disappointment of Airbnb and similar vacation rental platforms. Airbnb and other home rental platforms have been pushing for a change to the regulations in Singapore for years, and after around four years of discussion, on May 8, 2019, it was ruled that short-term rentals will remain illegal in the city and a minimum stay of three months will apply to vacation rentals in private homes. Airbnb’s head of public policy for South-East Asia Mich Goh said: “After nearly four years of consultation, it is disappointing that the discussion has not moved forward.” Understandably, this is bad for the vacation rental business in one of South East Asia’s most popular vacation destinations.
Singapore’s decision was followed by extensive research made by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) who came to the conclusion that the policy of illegal short-term rentals is better for the city and its residents. The URA, therefore, wanted to uphold the existing regulatory framework. The URA spoke to tenants, residents, developers, and many other different groups in local society in order to reach a decision that was fair for Singaporeans. There was a commissioned national survey of thousands of private homeowners in order to gauge public opinion. From this survey, it was reported that the main concerns of homeowners and tenants are that short-term rentals could compromise the surrounding residents’ security and privacy. Homeowners are mainly concerned that tourists will damage common facilities, cause trouble, and invade privacy.
Three Month Minimum Rental Period
Short-term rentals are illegal in Singapore and law states that there is a minimum stay of three consecutive months in a private property. This rule is aimed to ensure housing markets stay regulated and prices for Singapore’s residents can be controlled. If the property has been acquired the Housing & Development Board (the HBD), the rules are similar, however, the law states that it is a six-month month minimum rental period. HBD flats cannot be rented to tourists at all, and they can only be rented to foreigners who have long-term visit passes or student passes.
The rules for both HBD flats and private flats also applies to single rooms rented, even if the owner is present. This is a different policy to cities such as New York, where homeowners are permitted to rent rooms for as little as one night, so long as the tenant or homeowner is present during the time of rental.
In rare cases in Singapore, some homeowners have been granted permission by the URA to host short-term rentals. If you’re looking for a short-term rental on platforms such as Airbnb, be sure to check with the host that they have permission to rent short-term from the URA.
Short-Term Rental Demand
Tourists want short-term vacation rentals and landlords or tenants elsewhere have been meeting this demand. This has seriously disrupted the rental industry in major cities as for landlords, or tenants, it’s much more profitable to rent to tourists for a few days at a time, than it is to rent long term. Singapore is an incredible city to visit and explore, and tourists usually stay for less than a week — meaning that the majority of tourists are only interested in a short-term rental.
Singapore follows in line with cities such as Barcelona and Tokyo, who have strict short-term rental laws. Singapore has, however, managed to control the short-term rental industry in a more successful way due to the rule of a minimum stay of three consecutive months.
Finding Short Term Accommodation in Singapore
If you really want to stay in a private apartment during your stay in Singapore, you can look at sites such as AllTheRooms nad Booking.com who list apartment-hotels. These usually come with their own kitchenette, living-room area, and common area, offering the same level of privacy as a private apartment. It’s a pretty good alternative to having your whole own apartment. You could also consider staying in suite hotels, which offer more personal space than your average hotel room. Other options include staying in family-run B&Bs, where you can get a more local feel to your stay.
Going Against Law
Regardless of the law in Singapore, some homeowners or tenants still continue illegally renting their property. This is because that while the risk of being caught is high, the chance of making good money can be very tempting. However, we suggest not chancing staying in an apartment that’s being illegally rented as a short-term rental. You run the risk of being kicked out of the apartment mid-stay if someone reports the illegal rental to the authorities. If you’re willing to rent a room or an apartment regardless of warnings, always make sure you check that the vacation rental is safe before booking. Be wary of unofficial online vacation rental platforms offering short-term apartments to rent.
There are also not as many homeowners going against the law in Singapore as, for example, in New York. In Singapore, repeat offenders may be fined up to S$200,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 12 months. If a homeowner or tenant continues with a short-term rental, even after the conviction and fine, the owner can be fined up to $10,000 for each extra day of the rental after conviction, alongside running the risk of a jail term.
Restrictions on the No. of People in One Apartment
Generally, in Singapore, there are legal restrictions on the number of people who can stay in a property at any one time. This depends on the location and size of the property. So even if you’re renting for longer than the short-term requirement, you must check that there are not too many people in the apartment. Always do your research before booking.