By The Hospitable Team
Thinking about investing in Airbnb rentals? Renting out your property short-term in whole or in part to travelers is a great opportunity to earn extra cash. But it’s vital to ensure that you are fully compliant with any laws for your area at the city and state levels.
So before you list your property on one of OTA websites, don’t forget about one important step—consider legal issues first. Check your state and local laws and regulations to find out how the laws and vacation rental tax rules work in your city and if there are any Airbnb restrictions.
Airbnb Legal Challenges
When deciding whether to become an Airbnb host, you should consider Airbnb legal challenges. Some cities have passed legislation that restricts your ability to host paying guests for short periods. Many cities have rules covering home sharing, and the specific codes and ordinances can appear in many places (such as zoning, building, licensing, or tax codes).
In many cities, property owners must register, get a permit, or obtain a license before they list their property or accept guests. Certain types of short-term bookings may be prohibited altogether. Local governments vary greatly in enforcing these laws, and penalties may include fines or other enforcement.
These rules can be confusing, so it’s better to contact your government with any questions. You may also find more information about your jurisdiction’s laws and regulations on Airbnb Responsible Hosting page in the Local regulations section.
If you are a US-based host, you may want to look at Airbnb’s Responsible hosting in the United States webpage, which covers city regulations that apply to many major US cities.
If you own a vacation rental property in Europe, you may want to check one of these responsible hosting articles that provide a general overview of different laws and regulations that affect hosts in European countries.
If you can’t find information about local laws and regulations online, you should contact your local government offices directly. If you do this, you just may learn that the rules are actually different depending on the specific city or town you live in. You might even discover that there are only a couple of restrictions regarding vacation rentals in your city.
So you’ll be able to proceed with creating your listing and start earning money. And if you opt for vacation rental software like Hospitable.com, you’ll be able to streamline your routine operations and automate communication with your guests. That means you’ll have more time for more vital aspects of your business.
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Cities with the Most Airbnb Legal Issues
The success of your Airbnb real estate investing highly depends on the location of your vacation rental property. So it’s better to avoid cities with Airbnb restrictions where Airbnb operations are substantially limited.
Let’s take a look at Airbnb regulations in some cities with the most Airbnb legal issues.
New York City, NY
New York is the biggest tourist destination in the United States, but the Airbnb regulations here are pretty strict. There are many laws and regulations that are currently in place, and failing to abide by these laws can result in hefty penalties and fines.
The main issue with becoming an Airbnb host in New York City is complying with the state’s Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL). It prohibits renting out unhosted space of fewer than 30 days in “Class A Dwellings” (buildings with three or more units). That means you can’t legally rent out your apartment while you’re away for the weekend.
If you have a single-family home in New York City, you may be subjected to zoning restrictions. For example, you may need to meet specific building codes to meet the legal requirements for rental property.
The host can only have two paying guests staying in the home or apartment for less than 30 days. The Airbnb host can’t install any locks because guests must have free and unobstructed access to all rooms and exits.
Keep in mind that the City of New York requires that home-sharing platforms like Airbnb share data about listings and you as a host (they must obtain your consent for this). If you don’t consent to share your data with the city, you won’t be allowed to host short-term stays on Airbnb. That means you’ll only be able to host guests for stays that are 30 nights or longer, which are exempt from data-sharing.
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco was among the first cities to regulate short-term rentals. Airbnb hosts are required to register as a business and receive a valid Short-Term Residential Rental Certificate from the Office of Short-Term Rentals. You can register your listing only if you live there for at least 275 days per year.
A host can rent out a spare room for an unlimited number of nights as long as they stay at the property. But they may rent out their entire space while they are absent for up to 90 days per year.
Hosts in San Francisco must pay taxes on their rental properties. San Francisco imposes a 14% Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) on short-term reservations (less than 30 nights). Airbnb collects and remits the TOT in San Francisco.
Los Angeles, CA
According to Home Sharing Ordinance (CF 14-1635-S2), home-sharing is permitted in Los Angeles if your listing is your primary residence where you live for more than six months out of the year. Hosts are required to register with the city and post their registration number on all listings. The fee for a home-sharing registration or renewal is $89.
Airbnb hosts in Los Angeles are allowed to rent out their residences for a maximum of 120 nights per year. Exceeding the limit will result in daily fines. If you want to host for an unlimited number of nights, you must register for extended home-sharing and pay an $850 fee.
The City of Los Angeles imposes a 14% Transient Occupancy Tax on the listing price (including cleaning fees) for stays of 30 nights or less. Airbnb collects and remits the City transient occupancy tax. But hosts are still required to file monthly returns to the Office of Finance and take a deduction for tax collected and remitted by Airbnb.
Santa Monica, CA
Santa Monica prohibits renting out an entire home as a short-term rental while the host is not present. The city only allows home sharing for less than 30 days when at least one of the primary residents lives on-site throughout the visitor’s stay.
If you want to home-share your primary residence, you must apply for a home-sharing permit and business license. The Santa Monica Short-Term Rental Ordinance contains restrictions on the number of group bookings, occupancy, and visitor vehicle limitations.
It limits the occupancy of the home-share to less than ten persons, one person per 200 square feet of the dwelling unit, or two persons (excluding minors) per bedroom.
Santa Monica assesses a 14% Transient Occupancy Tax on the listing price, including any cleaning fee for 30 nights and shorter reservations. Airbnb collects and remits transient occupancy taxes in Santa Monica.
Las Vegas, NV
Airbnb rules and regulations in Las Vegas ban non-owner-occupied rentals. Airbnb hosts must receive a business license, carry liability insurance of $500,000, and renew their rental permit every six months to avoid fines. Hosts must register with tax authorities, collect taxes from guests, and remit them to the city and county.
The short-term rental property must have no more than three bedrooms and be at least 660 feet from any other short-term residential rental. The maximum occupancy of a short-term rental must not exceed two adults per bedroom.
Additionally, Las Vegas prohibits the use of short-term rentals for weddings, birthday parties, receptions, and other types of special events.
When planning your vacation rental investment strategy, you should remember that each jurisdiction has a different set of rules regarding short-term rentals. At present, many legal challenges surround short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, and some cities have introduced Airbnb restrictions.
If you want to become an Airbnb host, you should be aware of the legal requirements in your area. Keep in mind that laws around Airbnb restrictions are changing rapidly, so it’s crucial to stay up-to-date.
You may also want to check our article to learn about the best places to buy vacation rental property in Europe and the US.
DISCLAIMER: the information in this article is not excessive and is not intended to give legal advice. Consult your lawyer and local authorities before starting an Airbnb business.
In the past decade, short-term rentals have become a more profitable strategy for most markets worldwide than renting property long term. If you plan to buy a short-term rental property in the US, you will be interested in this article, prepared together with Mashvisor.
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Local governments have been cracking down on Airbnb—with many outlawing (or severely prohibiting) it altogether. It’s a bit of a challenge to find the precise requirements to starting your Airbnb business. But don’t worry; this article is going to point you in the right direction and give you all the information you need to know (and where to get it) to be compliant.