Airbnb & Short Term Rental Laws and Restrictions in Florida
Are you ready to join the ever-expanding market of short term rentals? Investing in short term rental properties or transforming your space into one can be a fantastic way to make a little extra income. Want to aim higher? Set your sights on developing a short term rental business, which can have the potential to rake in substantial profits. According to Statista, the potential market volume is slated to top $20 million by 2026.
Given the market is still expanding, now is a great time to get your short term rental business up and running. This is particularly the case in a state like Florida, where major tourist attractions and spectacular beaches draw record crowds each year. VisitFLORIDA logged more than 120 million international visitors to Florida in 2021 alone.
Before you start, though, you must be aware of the potential laws and regulations that might impact how you manage your property or run your business. This guide is designed to help with this aspect: in the following paragraphs, you’ll learn all about how to successfully operate short term rentals in the state of Florida. We’ll walk through everything from tax implications to capacity limits, and we’ll provide in-depth insights for some of the Sunshine State’s most popular locales so that you can rest assured that you’ve covered your short term rental business bases.
What is Considered a “Short Term Rental” in Florida?
Let’s start with the basics: what would be considered a “short term rental” (or STR) in the state of Florida? In that state, any individual lease agreement that is less than six months in duration is considered a short term rental.
Let’s extend that definition a little further for clarity. In terms of what types of properties can be rented, Florida statute 509.242(1)(c), defines a vacation rental as “any group of units in a condominium, cooperative, or time share plan 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.” When we put these two elements together, we get “short term vacation rental”, which, for this book, will be what we mean when we refer to STRs.
These definitions themselves are indicative of some important general points when considering the short term rental market in Florida. The first is that these ordinances are written in such a way that individual counties and cities are afforded significant leeway in setting their own rules and regulations for STRs. Thanks to this statewide flexibility, the definition of a short term rental can vary somewhat by jurisdiction.
For the sake of illustration, let’s compare the definitions of a short term rental between the cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Both define STRs similarly as, using Fort Lauderdale’s phrasing, “any unit or group of units… that is rented to transient occupants more than three (3) times in a calendar year for periods of less than thirty (30) days or one (1 ) calendar month.” Fort Lauderdale’s ordinance adds to this definition, though, any property that “is advertised or held out to the public as a place regularly rented to transient occupants . . . but that is not a timeshare project.” These might seem like a small difference between the two municipalities, but even these subtleties can have a great impact on someone who is attempting to launch an STR business.
Another example of this difference between state and local definitions can be seen in the home-share space of the short term rental market. According to the state of Florida, in the scenario where an owner is sharing only a portion of their home and can serve as a “host”, the STR definition does not apply. So, from a state perspective, if you want to rent multiple single rooms in your Florida home on Airbnb or another short term rental site, feel free knowing that you skirted past this Florida regulation.
While Florida state regulations offer ample room for home-sharing scenarios, many individual cities put pressure on limiting them. Many municipalities restrict this ability by either capping occupancy or by limiting the districts in the city in which such home-share STRs can operate. So, in short: just because the state regulations permit an action does not mean that the city also will.
These examples are shared here, so as not to complicate the understanding of how the short term rental property is defined, but rather, the aim in noting these distinctions is to instill early on the importance of being attentive to local rules and requirements as you set up your STR business.
Starting a Short Term Rental Business in Florida
Like starting up a short term rental business in any other state, there are some basics beyond the definition of a short term rental property that you should have in place to ensure you can boost your business from the very start.
Here are some of the components you should plan for when starting your short term rental business in Florida:
Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) Licensure
One of Florida’s statewide mandates for short term rental properties is that if you rent a property more than three times a year for less than 30 days at a time, or if you publicly advertise your property for rent in this capacity, you must acquire a vacation rental business license from the state. This is known as the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation License (DBPR License for short).
Steps Toward Florida DBPR Licensure:
To apply for your Florida DBPR license, you will need to prepare the following materials:
You’ll need to supply both your home address and that of the rental property.
Property Type (Condominium or Dwelling)
The DBPR offers two separate application processes for either condominium or stand-alone dwelling STRs. Each application asks for slightly different information, so make sure to review it fully before submitting your paperwork.
For those rentals located in a larger occupancy building, you’ll need to indicate the type of building in which you plan to host a short term rental by assigning it to one of three categories:
- Single: up to four units within one building
- Group: more than four units within one building
- Collective: up to 75 units in different buildings but within one civic district
Balcony Inspection (DBPR HR-7020) Certificate
If your STR will be in a building three or more stories in height or features balconies of a distance of 17 feet or more from ground level, you will need to have your balcony assessed by a certified inspector who can fill out the necessary inspection certification.
Human Trafficking Notification
Florida requires that any employees you hire to maintain your STR property or to greet and welcome guests be trained appropriately, a point to which you will need to agree in your application.
These fees, which vary depending on factors such as the county in which your short term rental property is located and the number of units you plan to rent, can be calculated and paid directly online via the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation website. There is also a standard $50 fee associated with initial applications.
The Importance of Licensure
Acquiring a license to operate a short term rental in Florida might seem unnecessary. On the contrary, however: registering your business is crucial. Why? This licensure serves as the corner post to your short term rental business and puts you on firm footing to grow your business.
At the same time, it makes your short term rental business legitimate and thus potentially protects your concept from others. Registering your STR business might also be a necessity if you wish to seek out loans or establish separate bank accounts to manage your funds.
Florida Short Term Rental Business License Renewals
To keep your STR business running smoothly once you’ve acquired your license from the state, it is imperative that you renew this license accordingly. Florida requires that you renew your business license every year. You can typically complete this process online. Start by visiting the Florida Department of Corporations and submitting the annual report for your business. Along with these reports, you must submit fees, which can vary between $25 to over $400 depending on the structure of your business.
Keeping track of the laws and regulations surrounding setting up a business is not easy, so keep in mind that you can always reach out to professionals for assistance. Hiring a lawyer or an accountant, for instance, can help you feel more confident that you are creating a firm foundation for your STR business. Moreover, these professionals can prove invaluable when helping you set up the right structure for your business, whether that be a:
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
- Limited Partnership
- General Partnership
- Limited Liability Partnership
- Sole Proprietorship
There are strengths and weaknesses to each of these business structure types (for a full description of each option as it is defined in the eyes of Florida, please visit the state’s Division of Corporations page). If you decide, though, to set up your STR business as a limited liability company (LLC), you provide yourself with a bit of a financial safety net.
Why is this the case? Establishing your business as an LLC gives you one way to protect your assets. According to the rules of an LLC, your personal assets are considered separate from your business debts/assets and thus are protected in the event of a lawsuit involving your short term rental business. LLCs also come with the benefit of greater flexibility in how you choose to run your short term rental business and manage your profits. LLCs also tend to keep state reporting requirements relatively minimal. For more on the implications of an LLC for your short term rental business, particularly in terms of tax implications, please visit the Florida Department of Revenue.
Required Documentation to Start Your Florida STR Business
Regardless of your selected business structure, you will need to assemble several core items for your business license application. These potentially include:
- Name of short term rental business (this can be a temporary name, like a DBA, or your legal name)
- Articles of Organization or Incorporation (for LLCs or Corporations)
- Necessary fees (which will be dependent on your structure and needed documents – for a full list visit the Florida Division of Corporations fee chart)
You should also prepare yourself for future permits and licenses that you may need to apply for (depending on the location of your STR business properties). First on this list, you’ll need to apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. Then, you will need to check local requirements for your short term rental business (which we’ll cover in a later section).
Tax Implications for Florida Short Term Rentals
You’ve probably heard the saying that there are only two constants in life, and one of these is taxes. This is particularly the case in the state of Florida, where STR owners can plan to pay more than 10% of rental fees back to the county and to the state.
The different municipalities within the state, though, play a large part in determining your overall tax implications. Let’s look briefly at federal and statewide tax implications:
Federal Tax Implications
Broadly speaking, the United States government will consider your property a short term rental if:
- You rent your property out for a minimum of 14 calendar days each year
- You use that property personally for no more than 14 calendar days (or, more than 10% of the time that your property is occupied in a calendar year)
Meeting both of these requirements means you can maximize your potential federal tax benefits and deductions. Deductible expenses may include:
- Repairs and maintenance
- Insurance premiums
- Taxes (like the Transient Rental Tax – more on this in the next section!)
- Utilities, like water, gas and electricity
- Supplies – bed linens, bath towels, even wine glasses or pool toys!
- Legal and accounting fees
To maximize these deductions and to make the smartest moves when it comes to preparing your taxes, it is best to work with your accountant. Regardless, our best quick bit of advice? Keep those receipts! You never know what you might be able to deduct as a business-related expense come tax season.
The Transient Rental Tax
According to Florida Statute 212.03, all rental properties including STRs in the state of Florida are subject to what is known as the Transient Rental Tax. This taxation rate is set at 6% – the same rate as the state sales tax rate – and means that 6% of rent paid to you as a STR business owner will need to be paid to the state.
For accounting purposes, it is important to note that there are some rental situations where this 6% transient rental tax can be waived. This includes scenarios in which you are renting your STR to:
- A single renter/rental party for more than six months (as this bumps the property out of Florida’s definition of a short term rental)
- A military veteran or active-duty service member
- A full-time student registered for postsecondary coursework
In the two latter cases, you should ask renters for written proof of their status (for example, an enrollment letter from a university or community college or documentation of official military orders).
The Florida Discretionary Sales Surtax
In addition to the 6% rental tax, Florida can also impose a Discretionary Sales Surtax on short term rental properties. This tax is typically between .5% and 1.5% of the total rental cost (this means not just the nightly fee but also any associated cleaning or reservation processing fees) and is assessed for any rental reservation that lasts for less than 182 days (or six months).
The Local Option Transient Rental Tax
Beyond the statewide Transient Rental Tax and the Discretionary Sales Surtax, each county in the state of Florida can also levy its own tax, known as the Local Option Transient Rental Tax, against short term rental properties.
This tax includes the County Tourist Development tax and can vary between counties. The highest rates, found in counties like Broward, which is home to Fort Lauderdale, match the state tax at 6%; the same goes for Duval County, in which Jacksonville can be found. Meanwhile, other counties, such as Calhoun or Lafayette, both of which sport a population of fewer than 15,000 inhabitants, charge no such tax at all.
In addition to keeping tabs on the going transient rental tax rates in the county that houses your short term rental properties, you’ll also want to make a note of where these Local Option Transient Rental Tax payments must be directed. Most of these payments should be directed to the county. Roughly 20 of the counties, however, from Bradford to Washington, mandate payment of the Local Option Transient Rental Tax directly to the state’s Department of Revenue.
General Florida Airbnb and Short Term Rental Rules
Congratulations: if you’ve made it this far in the process of setting up your STR business in Florida, you’ve passed the first major hurdles and reached a new landmark in our journey! You’ve learned about the necessity and requirements for licensure, and you’ve grasped what you can expect in terms of tax implications! Now to the fun part: the major rules and regulations that govern short term rentals in Florida.
It’s not quite time to pat yourself on the back yet, though: while these components we’ve covered so far can help you to form a crucial foundation for your Florida STR business, you’ll need to go one step further to assess the rules, regulations, and fees associated with short term rentals by city. Always keep in mind that cities, as well as the state, have a voice in how you operate your STR business, so make sure that you are an expert in what each city will ask of you.
Understanding Florida’s General Rules for Short Term Rentals
A state like Florida has something for everyone: spectacular nature, thrilling theme parks, amazing wildlife, art, culture – the list goes on. Given this amazing profile, it is probably not surprising that so many people wish to visit the state each year. All those visitors mean a lot of money being poured into the real estate and hospitality sectors as tourists gobble up hotel rooms and vacation rentals across the state. Pair this demand with the exponential growth of the short term rental industry in the past two decades spurred by the success of industry leaders like Airbnb and it becomes clear why states felt it imperative to set some ground rules for STR businesses.
Let’s take a look at some of the core rules shared across the state that work to seek a balance between tourists and locals, and to ensure the safety and satisfaction of guests, hosts, and their larger communities.
Generally Shared Rules and Regulations Across Florida
While each city and county upholds different rules, there are some general points that many Floridian locales share. Most major Florida cities include rules and regulations such as:
City Registration and Fees
Many major cities in Florida require STR businesses to register their business and/or their properties with the city. These applications often are accompanied by fees, which vary widely depending on the municipality. Some cities also require your STR business to attain city-specific tax numbers, but we will cover these later on a case-by-case basis.
Shared by many Florida cities is the requirement that short term rental properties must be owned by you as the host. Those in condominiums or other properties overseen by a Homeowners Association (HOA) who want to rent out their space will need to gain approval from the HOA in written form. In such an instance, you will also need to make sure that the HOA holds its own business tax receipt (BTR) number.
Moreover, some cities also restrict short term rental properties by:
- Dwelling location: many cities in Florida, particularly those that are larger and more populous areas, like Miami Beach or Fort Lauderdale, limit the zones in which you can operate a short term rental.
- Occupant number: an additional consideration is that some cities in Florida, for example Destin, also cap the number of occupants that can be hosted in one short term rental. Again, these rules can vary, but generally speaking, those cities in Florida that cap occupancy limit capacity to two adults per bedroom.
Florida STR owners will also be expected to maintain an appropriate level of safety and security for their rental guests. This is important not only because it can keep your rental guests happy, but it can also keep you in good standing in relation to licensure. Keeping your properties up to code, ensuring the cleanliness of the facilities, and adhering to safety protocols is considered as part of the DBPR licensing and renewal process. Accordingly, if your STR property is discovered to have fallen off in any of these categories, your DBPR license can easily be revoked. Ways that you can ensure your STR is adhering to these standards can include:
- Make sure you clearly state emergency information.
This can include signs indicating the location of fire extinguishers or emergency exits throughout the short term rental unit. This can even involve posting emergency contact numbers (like 911) for those who might be an international visitor to your Florida STR unfamiliar with these American resources.
- Designate a contact person in case of emergency.
If you are operating your STR un-hosted, you can save yourself some stress by designating a contact person who is available for immediate assistance should anything in the STR go awry. This contact person is particularly important if you will be far away for a given time. From lost keys to noise complaints, there are myriad scenarios where having an on-call resource can be beneficial to accommodate your guests. Moreover, some Florida municipalities, such as the city of Naples, mandate that you identify this local contact person who will be “on-call” in case there are any issues with the short term rental.
- Keep up with all of your community’s local building and safety codes.
Regular maintenance for your short term rental is not just a source of a tax deduction; it is imperative to make sure you are meeting Florida’s regulations that require that you keep your short term rental up to code. This begins at the DBPR licensure stage, wherein you’ll need to provide proof of a balcony inspection, but can also be part of the STR permitting process in your Florida municipality. For example, Miami Beach mandates an inspection of your STR property by the fire marshall; meanwhile, cities like Jacksonville require that your STR permit application include surveys of your property
Also central to many Florida municipal codes relating to short term rentals are articles that encourage the wellbeing of the overall neighborhood. These regulations can include restrictions on:
Many Florida cities require short term rentals to follow the rules of local noise ordinances. Holmes Beach, Florida, for instance, near Tampa goes so far as to mandate in city ordinance Section 4.11 that the following statement be displayed in any STR in the vicinity: “You are vacationing in a residential area. Please be a good neighbor by keeping the noise to a respectful level during the day and night. Excessive and unreasonable noise can deprive neighbors of the peaceful enjoyment of their private property.”
Some cities, like Fort Walton Beach, enforce parking limitations or restrictions for short term rental properties to alleviate already problematic parking congestion near popular beach areas.
Now, let’s look at some of the major Florida cities to get a sense of how their requirements vary. This city-by-city review will expand on these general points by noting the key unique factors of each municipality’s codes when it comes to short term rentals. Consider these variations, additions, and exceptions as further steps you’ll need to take beyond the general guidelines outlined earlier.
Airbnb and Short Term Rental Rules by Major Florida City
Now that we’ve covered some of the general rules that govern short term rentals across the state of Florida, let’s home in on some of the state’s more popular destination cities to see what additional or different regulations are at play there.
Clearwater Beach Airbnb and Short Term Rental Laws and Regulations
The quiet, beachfront neighbor to tantalizing Tampa, Clearwater Beach is a popular destination for those seeking some sun along the Gulf Coast. Given this, it is perhaps not surprising that BuildYourBnB reports average monthly earnings for STR properties at more than $1600.
That being said, Clearwater Beach can present challenges to setting up a short term rental business. One of the biggest hurdles is CDC Sections 1-104.B & 3-919, which stipulates that the city does not allow short term rentals of 30 days or less in any of the city’s residential districts. This is in line with the larger restrictions imposed by Pinellas County which comprises much of Clearwater Beach, as well as Saint Petersburg.
Don’t count Clearwater Beach out, though, on this accord alone. Rentals in residential districts of more than one month are permitted. Moreover, STRs can exist in areas zoned as “Tourist Districts” or “Commercial Districts” as defined by the city. For those STRs that do fall into those districts, Clearwater Beach makes renting them rather easy. Aside from mandating a City of Clearwater Beach Business Tax Receipt (BTR), Clearwater Beach forgoes the local permitting process and instead defers to the state’s general requirements.
Destin/Fort Walton Beach Airbnb and Short Term Rental Laws and Regulations
A thriving strip of beachside communities that connect Florida to Alabama in the east, The northern Gulf Coast of Florida’s shoreline includes hotspots like Destin and Fort Walton Beach. Given this popularity, it stands to reason that communities like Destin and Fort Walton Beach both have worked to establish regulations for STR properties.
Destin in particular has formalized the process with a series of rules similar to other nearby beach communities. To operate a short term rental there, you need to:
Register Your Short Term Rental
Potential STR owners in the Destin area will need to apply for a short term rental permit. Registration for this permit, as outlined in Article VI of the Destin Code of Ordinances, requires the following elements to be provided:
- Proof that your property is within one of the acceptable zones (as noted in city documents)
- A City of Destin Business Tax Receipt (BTR)
- A valid DBPR License
- A Florida Department of Revenue Resale Certificate
- A City of Destin Bedroom/Parking Affidavit
Keep an Eye on Capacity
Destin also mandates that capacity at each short term rental property not exceed 24 persons at a given time. Moreover, Destin caps per bedroom capacity at two people, with the option of four additional persons per property. So, if you are renting a four-bedroom home, 10 people would be the most you could host in that property.
Jacksonville Airbnb and Short Term Rental Laws and Regulations
The bustling city of Jacksonville boasts numerous major attractions and also serves as a hub for business, so it should come as no surprise that it makes for a great location to establish an STR business.
Following in line with Florida state statutes, the city of Jacksonville defines a short term rental as any property rented on more than three occasions per year for durations of 30 days or less. Jacksonville allows short term rentals in residential districts in single-family homes, two-family homes/duplexes, and townhouses provided that they hold a short term Vacation Rental Certificate.
Applying for a Jacksonville Short Term Vacation Rental Certificate
To get your STR business in Jacksonville up and running, you will need to attain a short term Vacation Rental Certificate for each property you plan to rent. A complete application for one of these certificates includes:
- A short term Vacation Rental Certificate Affidavit
- Local STR business tax forms
- Local tax receipt and tourist tax registration form for Duval County
- Evidence of your Florida Department of Revenue Certificate and DBPR License
- Detailed documentation of your proposed STR property, including:
- Sample lease
- Boundary survey
- Proof of ID for the property owner
- Property compliance inspection report
With all of these components in hand, along with a check for your permit fees, you should be well on your way to setting up your Jacksonville STR business. Annual fees for your Jacksonville short term Vacation Rental Certificate are $150 (along with a $79.20 annual local business tax fee).
Miami Beach Airbnb and Short Term Rental Laws and Regulations
Similar to other major Florida cities, Miami Beach restricts the city zones in which short term rental properties can exist. Some small districts offer limited STRs, while much of the city prohibits them entirely.
For those lucky ones who own a property in one of these viable districts, you can establish an STR provided you hold a valid DBPR license as well as:
A Miami Beach Business Tax Receipt Number
Your Business Tax Receipt (BTR) Number is awarded by the city of Miami Beach. To apply, you need to supply your business’s Articles of Incorporation (if applicable); proof of ownership of the proposed STR property; a completed – and notarized – BTR affidavit; and any insurance documentation you have for your business.
You will also need to submit a business registration fee, which typically comprises a $69 license fee, a $45 application fee, and a $57.50 fire inspection fee. These various fees can be prorated depending on the time of year you apply (1 October marks the beginning of the Miami Beach fiscal calendar).
A Miami Beach Resort Tax Certificate Number
With your BTR in hand, you can then register for your Miami Resort Tax Certificate Number so that you can remit the necessary taxes to the city each month. To acquire this number, you will need to present your BTR along with your driver’s license number, social security number, and, if you are operating a STR business, your EIN and associated tax documentation.
Remember that all STRs need to retain a 4% tax on room rental fees (as well as a 2% tax on any sale of food or beverage associated with the rental) to the city.
Completing this process to attain these licenses and numbers can take some time, but the wait is worth it. Having both your BTR and Resort Tax Number in hand will not only ensure you comply with Miami Beach law; it will also be necessary to list your property on STR sites like Airbnb.
City of Naples Airbnb Airbnb and Short Term Rental Laws and Regulations
Perhaps responding to the ever-growing presence of short term rental properties across Florida’s landscape, the city of Naples, for many years, prohibited all STR properties. Recent legislation, though, has changed this rule, meaning that soon the STR market in Naples could be booming.
Setting up a Naples STR is straightforward, as well as outlined in these new regulations. All it requires, beyond holding a DBPR license and agreeing to pay the Collier County Tourist Development Tax, is registration of each STR property.
City of Naples STR Registration
Breaking in the Naples Daily News in November 2021 was that the short term landscape was changing. Effective January 2, 2022, all short term rentals of single-family, multi-family, and condominium residences in Naples will need to be registered with the city. To apply for this registration, and in accordance with new city ordinance 2021-45, all STR owners need to submit:
- Proof of their current Florida DBPR License
- A completed Collier County short term Vacation Rental Application (which includes providing the contact information for a responsible party available 24 hours a day/ seven days a week to respond to renter/neighborhood concerns)
- Proof that the STR owner has registered with the county (to ensure tax filings are accurate)
- A $50 one-time registration fee
Once registered, STR owners will receive a number that they can provide to ensure their property is in compliance.
Orlando Airbnb and Short Term Rental Laws and Regulations
The home of some of Florida’s most iconic theme parks, Orlando is a perennially popular destination among travelers. Visit Orlando, for example, recorded more than 35 million tourists in 2020 alone. Sounds like an ideal locale for a short term rental business, right?
Not so much: Orlando has some of the most restrictive laws in the entire state when it comes to short term rentals, at least where single-family homes are concerned. This is perhaps partially owed to the fact that elsewhere in Orange County, STR listings like those found on Airbnb are not permitted. Before 2018, Orlando outlawed all STRs too; as of 1 July that year, however, Orlando changed its policies to allow for two types of short term rentals:
You can use your single-family home or other accessory dwelling units as an STR provided:
- You are the owner and full-time resident at the property (Orlando prohibits the short term rental of entire, unhosted units; only home-sharing is approved)
- You rent to only one party (or parties) at a time
- You rent no more than half of the bedrooms in your dwelling
- You maintain a capacity of no more than two people per room and no more than four non-relatives per dwelling
While these stringent home-sharing rules can curtail STR business, they do come with the benefit that home-share STRs can exist in any zoning type in the city.
Commercial Dwelling Unit
Those who own commercial dwelling units, such as a vacation rental condominium, can rent the entire unit but cannot operate in a residential zone of the city.
Once your application is complete, the city will issue you a permit number in exchange for a $275 fee. This permit number is renewable annually with an additional fee of $100.
Pompano Beach Airbnb and Short Term Rental Laws and Regulations
Echoing the laid-back vibe of its location between Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, Pompano Beach provides some of the more lenient short term rental rules of the myriad Floridian beachfront communities. Let’s take a look at these regulations below.
Short Term Rental Permit
- Proof of your current DBPR License from the state
- Proof of your registration with the Florida Department of Revenue
- A copy of your Broward County Business Tax Receipt (BTR)
- A copy of your Pompano Beach Business Tax Receipt (BTR) (achievable only after you successfully attain your Zoning Use Certificate)
- Documentation that your STR property is free of liens or other code violations
Also accompanying your application should be a copy of the lease you will use with renters as well as an interior floor plan and exterior site plan. Don’t forget your application fee as well, which totals $675 for single- or two-family homes and $750 for multi-family homes. These permits need to be renewed annually at the cost of $375.
Saint Petersburg Airbnb and Short Term Rental Laws and Regulations
Locally known as the “Sunshine City” in the “Sunshine State,” Saint Petersburg sits along one of the most coveted stretches of Florida’s endless coastline. Because of that prime location, though, it seems that establishing an STR business in Saint Petersburg can be a bit of a challenge.
If you wish to rent your STR for stretches longer than 30 days, you are permitted to do so anywhere in the city. In addition, if you hold an STR property in a part of the city zoned for hotel occupancy, you are also in the clear. For those wishing to rent their units for less than a month at a time outside of these hotel zones, options in Saint Petersburg are relatively limited. Such STRs can operate only on the proviso that they are rented only up to three times in any year period.
Anyone who wishes to operate a Saint Petersburg STR will need to provide proof of a Business Tax Certificate Receipt as well as their DBPR license.
Sarasota Airbnb and Short Term Rental Laws and Regulations
Sarasota might attract a wide array of tourists thanks to its beautiful beaches and impressive art collection housed in the Ringling Museum of Art. It might not be that attractive, though, for those aiming to set up an STR business. As of late 2021, the city of Sarasota still had outlawed short term rental properties by mandating that no lodging could be rented for less than seven calendar days in any residentially-zoned district.
Tampa Airbnb and Short Term Rental Laws and Regulations
One of the last of its kind in Florida, and the antithesis to Sarasota when it comes to STRs, Tampa currently has a relatively unregulated market for short term rentals. It is governed by state laws, and thus those operating an STR business in Tampa need to ensure their property licensing and tax documentation.
Meanwhile, Hillsborough County, which contains the metropolitan area of Tampa, offers a little more restrictions. The main concern on the county level is that those properties rented for seven days or less at a time can only operate in certain city zones. Beyond these state rules, though, Tampa is a pretty inviting market for STR investors. This perhaps helps to explain the healthy 13% growth in STR properties in Tampa reported by AirDNA in the fourth quarter of 2021.
FAQs about Airbnb and Short Term Rentals in Florida
Now that we’ve covered the basics for short term rentals in Florida, and have also highlighted some of the key regulation differences between the state’s popular cities, let’s turn to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) to provide some more clarity on key points.
- I want to break into the STR business in Florida. Where should I begin?
This is a great – but also a tough – question. It is difficult to answer because there are so many factors that can contribute to where you decide to invest in short term rentals and build your business. That said, we have a few helpful points that might help you get on the right track.
- Do your research: it’s probably safe to say that, given its beauty and brilliant weather all year long, Florida will not be going out of style soon. Nevertheless, some markets are “hotter” than others, so it would be good to read up on some of the pressures that are driving up prices in some locations (or driving them down in others).
- Frame your concept: once you have a sense of the landscape, we recommend next thinking about what type of business you hope to establish. Are you thinking of investing in numerous properties that will be your main sources of income? Or, are you imagining the STR market as a path to home ownership or just want to create a smaller-scale, boutique experience? Having an idea of where you see your STR business going can be invaluable, even before you sit down and start to fill out license applications and tax forms.
If you start here and work through each of our sections in this book, you should be on firm footing.
- I had a little “sticker shock” having just paid hundreds of dollars for my short term rental permit. How long are these valid?
It is hard to say exactly as different cities follow various practices when it comes to city-specific permits for short term rentals. That being said, the majority of Florida locations require renewal for your local STR license or permit each year. The good news? The renewal fee is often less than the initial application fee.
- I’ve read about the Transient Rental Tax imposed by the state of Florida on short term rentals; are there other taxes I need to keep in mind?
Yes: the Transient Rental Tax is the statewide component of the tax levied on STR units; you’ll also need to account for the Discretionary Sales Surtax and the Local Option Transient Rental Tax. The former, which is typically a fraction of a percentage, is paid to the state but then redistributed at the county level; the latter, which can be between 0-6%, typically goes directly to the counties themselves.
- As a self-managed short term rental business proprietor, how am I to keep track of all of these taxes?
One way you can ensure you are logging the correct amount is to earmark the percentage needed for both state and local taxes when running through your accounting books each month. This could be as simple as setting up a formula in a spreadsheet, but if accounting isn’t your strong suit, you could also hire a freelance accountant to keep your invoices organized. Even simpler still would be to take advantage of STR listing sites. Sites such as Airbnb, however, can deduct these payments for you, which is a major advantage. So, if you want one less accounting headache to manage as you get your short term rental business up and running, this perk is yet another reason to list your properties on sites like Airbnb.
- Are there any ways I can get a tax break when renting out my STR?
Yes: it is possible in certain scenarios to save a bit on the state rental tax. Florida statutes permit you to waive the 6% state rental tax if your renter can provide proof of being an active-duty service member, a military veteran, or a full-time student. In this context, proof takes the form of documentation: a letter from a college or post-secondary program that confirms your renter is enrolled, or an active duty order from a renter’s military team commander. You can also waive this tax if you rent to the same person for more than six months, however, this is because then, the terms of your rental agreement would no longer fall under the short term rental rules.
- What does it mean to “host” a short term rental?
In short term rental lingo, the “host” is the individual who greets the renter(s) at the property and stays with them at that property (in a home share arrangement where you rent one or several rooms). An unhosted property, then, simply refers to an STR unit where you/the owner is not present while the unit is being rented (in other words, instances of a whole house rental).
- Is a “short term rental” and a “short term lease” the same thing?
Not necessarily: the phrase “short term” can scale dramatically depending on the scenario at hand. Typically, “short term rental” refers to the renting of a property for 30 consecutive days or less. At least, this is the working definition for a short term rental in Florida. A short term lease could be for the same duration, however, it could refer to a three-, six- or even nine-month contract (really any duration less than a year). Because of this, when setting up your STR business, you will need to make sure that you are identifying your rental/lease terms appropriately.
- I want to use my home as a STR but currently have a Homestead Exemption on it. Can I keep this perk while also earning some extra income by renting?
It is possible to use your property as an STR while also keeping a homestead exemption, which helps to reduce your property tax burden. According to Florida state statute section 196.061 (1), you can keep your exemption provided that you do not rent your property for more than 30 days a year for two consecutive years. This means that, while you would not be able to rent your property full-time, you could establish a means to begin building your STR business while also saving some on your property taxes.
- How much money can I make establishing a short term rental in Florida?
It is difficult to predict profitability for a short term rental in Florida. Making it even more challenging is that the data reported from 2020 and 2021 can be misleading with tourism and travel lingering near record lows due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, a big picture glance provides some promising numbers. For instance, Alltherooms.com reported that in 2020 Airbnb hosts in the state of Florida earned an average of $28,012; in 2021, that number nearly doubled to $53,209. This puts Florida in the top six states in terms of STR earnings among all other states.
Florida really has it all: it is a state that will perennially be associated with everything from relaxed, beach vibes to exceptional cultural enrichment and entertainment. Some come for flying roller coasters; others come for SCUBA diving; still others come to simply get away from it all. Given this ideal combination, it seems there will always be the demand for short term rentals in the Sunshine State. So, why not join the market? Starting your own STR business in the Sunshine State means joining the many others who have caught on to the potential profits and pleasures that running a short term rental business in Florida can bring.
These folks are successful because they’ve done their homework. They stay on top of an ever-evolving set of rules and regulations that govern how they operate their short term rentals, and their diligence has typically paid off with an enduring list of clientele and an (appropriately) filled calendar of bookings. Wading through all of these STR regulations at the state and local level might seem overwhelming, but being well-versed in these guidelines can make the difference between endless frustrations and STR business satisfaction.
We hope that this guide has helped introduce you to these important rules in a streamlined yet informative fashion. Think of this book as a springboard, with its tips and helpful links throughout a starting point on your journey to becoming a player in the STR industry. As the old saying goes, “the only constant is change,” and no truer words can be said for the evolving nature of the STR market. Despite these inevitable changes, having a firm foundation in the regulations laid out here is key.
On a final note, particularly for those who might still feel a bit overwhelmed with all of the factors that are involved in establishing a successful STR business: it can get easier. Many of the “hoops” to jump through noted here occur in the early days of your STR business. Once you’ve navigated those hurdles, keeping your STR business on a level track becomes much easier. For example, the first STR permit might take some time, but the next will be faster, as will the next, and the next . . . and so on. In other words: you can build your STR business knowing that it will only become more rewarding as time goes on.
One Final Tip: Look into Lodgify
Not convinced that managing your short term rental will become easier? We get it: the thought of building your own STR business from the ground up can be daunting! If keeping tabs on these rules and regulations seems like too much to handle, or if you are already juggling other professional “hats” and don’t have the bandwidth to add another into the mix, don’t stress: vacation rental software can save the day.
Lodgify is one of the industry-leading softwares designed to help you manage your short term rental properties. Its comprehensive, centralized platform allows you to oversee all of your properties in one space. Furthermore, Lodgify allows you to create your own direct booking website to streamline the booking process. It also syncs your calendars across any third-party hosting sites, like Airbnb, on which you promote your property. Looking for simplicity in managing your Florida STR business? You needn’t look any further than Lodgify.