Short Term Vacation Rental


What is a “short term rental” or “vacation rental”?Closeup Of Old Signboard Bed & Breakfast AirBnB VRBO

“Short-term rental” generally means renting a unit, like an apartment or house, for less than 30 nights (some cities define it as less than 31 nights, or use days instead of nights). The most popular sites for advertising short term rentals are AirBnB and VRBO.

I own property. Can I rent it out on AirBnB?

The legal situation for short term rentals is changing rapidly, and we intend to keep this page as up to date as possible.

Many cities restrict short-term rentals. Of those that allow them, most require you to register your unit and also to collect a “hotel tax” (Airbnb often does this for you). They usually also consider “hosting” a short-term rental as a business so you will likely need to get a “business license” with the city. Here are some specific rules for various cities around the U.S.:

  • New York state (including NYC) – You may not rent out any unit or portion of any unit short term unless you are also living there during that time. It is now even illegal to advertise such listings that don’t comply, with hefty fines starting at $1,000.
  • San Francisco – You can rent short term a portion or your entire unit while you are also present for an unlimited number of nights per year. You can rent a portion or your entire unit while you are not present for a maximum of 90 total nights per year. But you must register your unit and pay $250 fee (can also be done directly through Airbnb). Violators are subject to fines of up to $1,000/day, and Airbnb is now removing non compliant listings.
  • Santa Monica – you may not short-term rent out a full unit; you may short-term rent out a spare room, but you must collect “hotel tax” of 14% from guests.
  • Los Angeles – If the unit is within the city of LA, the rules are somewhat unclear and complicated.It’s probably illegal if your unit is in a “residential” neighborhood, but may be OK in “commercial” neighborhoods. In addition, if your property is rent-controlled, you definitely can’t do it. So if your unit is non-rent controlled AND in a commercial area, you are probably fine, but you also need to collect a “hotel tax” from your guests. The city council is looking to change things soon so check here for updates.
  • Chicagoyou must register with the city, collect hotel tax of 4.5%, maintain certain types of insurance, maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and provide soap and clean linens.
  • Boston – you must register with the city and have an inspection done by the city, and you may need to collect hotel taxes.
  • Palm Springs – restricts short term rentals to 32 times per year; must pay permit fee of $900/year; limited to one permit per person
  • Miami Beach – allowed in some specific areas; before listing on Airbnb or other sites, must get permit. Violators can receive fines starting at $1,000.
  • Portland, OR – the unit must be primarily used for long-term occupancy, and you must occupy the place for at least 270 days per calendar year. You must get a permit, notify neighbors, and get an inspection done by the city.
  • Seattle – you must register your unit, and get an inspection done by the city. Beginning Jan 1, 2019, individuals are generally limited to 2 short term rental units: your primary residence, plus an additional unit; but those operating within a certain “exemption zone” downtown are allowed a larger number of units.
  • Las Vegas – must get a special permit that costs over $1,000, unless you live in the property and it has 3 bedrooms or less. Failure to comply can subject you to fines of up to $500/day
  • Detroit – new ordinance in effect as of February 2018 (but enforcement currently on hold): in single family homes or duplexes, you may not do any short term rentals or have any overnight paid guests.1Detroit Property Maintenance Code 9-1-43 There appears to be significant backlash and legal challenges to this, so stay tuned for updates.
  • Nashville – allowed if owner also occupies the property, or in multi-family high rises, or in any commercial zoned areas. As of January 2018, for single family or duplexes in residential areas, short term rentals will be phased out, and banned completely by June 2020.
  • South Lake Tahoe – you must get a permit, and pass inspection; must not allow guests to park on the street (only on the property). Violations may result in minimum $1,000 fine.
  • See more short term rental laws for other cities around the LA area.

Also, if your property is within a Homeowners Association (HOA) or Co-op, you are subject to the HOA or Co-op rules as well, which often restrict short term rentals.

I rent an apartment or house. Can I legally put it on AirBnB?

Probably not, but check your lease. In addition to the above laws and rules, if you are renting a unit, your lease most likely has a restriction on any and all “subletting.” Some leases say you can sublet if you get approval from your landlord (but they usually will not allow you to AirBnB the place). However, if by chance your lease says nothing about subletting or “assignment” of the unit, and if it wouldn’t violate any of the above laws, then you probably do have the legal right to AirBnB it.


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