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What are the rules for short-term rentals in Florida, and how can you understand them?
April 12, 2024

Understanding the rules for short-term rentals in Florida is essential for property owners to take advantage of this market opportunity. Understanding these provisions may seem daunting at first, but with the right knowledge, you can successfully understand the legal landscape.

In this blog post, we'll break down the key rules governing short-term rentals in Florida and provide practical insights on how to interpret and comply with them. Whether you're new to the vacation rental scene or a seasoned host, understanding these rules will empower you to maximize your property's potential and ensure compliance with local laws. Let's explore the specifics and find opportunities for short-term rentals in Florida!

First, it's Essential to Understand Florida’s Licensing Requirements for Short-Term Rentals:

Florida has specific rules for vacation rentals, and both new and existing hosts need to follow these rules to stay compliant. This involves getting the right permits and licenses for your rental property.

  • Defining Vacation Rentals in Florida: Florida law defines vacation rentals as places like single-family homes, condos, and co-ops that people rent out temporarily. Timeshares are not included in this definition.
  • Getting a License from the DBPR: To legally operate a vacation rental in Florida, you need a license from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). The application process varies depending on whether your property is a condo or a house. This system helps ensure that rentals are safe for guests and that hosts are responsible.
  • Certificate of Balcony Inspection: If your rental has a balcony, you must get a Certificate of Balcony Inspection. This certificate confirms that the balcony has been inspected and is safe, protecting guests and ensuring compliance with safety regulations.

Florida‘s vacation rental tax requirements:

Paying the right taxes on Florida vacation rentals is very important. Here are the main taxes you need to know:

  • State sales tax: 6% of the rent, collected by the host and sent to the state.
  • Local tourist tax: 1-5% depending on the county, collected by the host.
  • County surtax: 0.5% or 1% in some areas.
  • Commercial rental tax: Applies in certain places with different rates.

Note: Refer https://m.flsenate.gov/session/bill/2024/280/analyses/2024s00280.pre.fp.pdf for full details.

For example, Miami-Dade County has a 6% tax, so if you charge $1,000 for a week, you collect $60 in tax. Hosts may need to collect 7.5-12% or more in total taxes.

Know the tax rules for platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo. Using an automated system to handle taxes is a good idea and can be added to your Property Management Software (PMS).

Check tax deadlines, as they vary. For example, Orange County's tourist tax is due on the 20th of each month. Keeping organized will help you avoid penalties and audits.

Vacation rental taxes help fund local projects like roads and public transportation, benefiting both tourists and residents.

Vacation rental regulations in Florida’s top destinations:

If you are planning to own rental property in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Kissimmee or Destin? Here are the top rules for short-term rentals in some of Florida's most popular cities.

Miami:

  • Permission: Required to rent within 6 months. Fee: $100.
  • Contact Information: To be provided by the host city.
  • Rental Limit: Maximum 180 days per year.
  • Rules: Strict on noise, litter, parking and occupancy.

Kissimmee:

  • Permission: Not required.
  • Registration: Mandatory and free online.
  • Guest Limit: 3 guests per bedroom plus 2 extra.
  • Regulations: Noise and nuisance regulations are enforced.

Orlando:

  • Permit: Required for rent under 30 days. Fee: $250.
  • Commercial License: Required for some houses.
  • Guest Registration: Required.
  • Occupancy: Limits based on bedrooms.
  • Penalties: For noise violations.

Tampa:

  • Permit: Required for rentals under 29 days. Fee: $93.
  • Occupancy: 2 per bedroom + 2 extra per unit.
  • Sound: Strictly enforced.
  • Local Contact: Responsible party must live within 25 miles.

Ft. Lauderdale:

  • License: Required. Charges vary based on bedrooms.
  • Occupancy: 2 per bedroom + 2 extra per unit.
  • Rules: Strict on noise, litter, parking and pets.
  • Local Connection: 24/7 connection required.

Jacksonville:

  • License/Registration: Not required.
  • Compliance: Zoning and noise regulations must be followed.
  • Occupancy: Limits enforced.
  • Penalties: For noise, litter and parking violations.

Destin:

  • Permission: Required in some zones.
  • Occupancy: 2 per legal bedroom + 4 additional per unit.
  • Registration Fees: Due at the beginning of the year, based on unit size.
  • Local Contact: Must live within 30 miles and be on-site within an hour if needed.
  • Compliance: Structural, building and fire codes must be followed.

Each city has its own regulations, so property owners and managers should carefully research local permit requirements, fees, zoning laws, occupancy limits and noise ordinances.

Zoning Laws and Their Impact on Florida Vacation Rentals:

Zoning laws are important for vacation rentals, especially in Florida's busy market. If you want to start or manage a short-term rental like an Airbnb, you must understand the zoning rules in your area. These laws determine if you can rent out your property, how you can use it, and they must align with Airbnb regulations in Florida.

  1. Knowing Zoning Rules for Rentals : Zoning rules for short-term rentals in Florida can vary greatly by location, so it's crucial to do thorough research. These rules affect many parts of rental management, such as what type of rentals are allowed, how long guests can stay, and what activities are permitted. Staying informed and following these rules is not just about legal compliance but is also key to running a successful rental business.
  1. Avoiding Legal Issues with Proper Zoning : Following local zoning laws helps avoid legal problems. Compliant hosts protect themselves from fines, legal battles, and disruptions to their operations, which is important for Airbnb hosts in Florida. Working with local planning departments and legal experts can be very helpful, ensuring your rental business is legitimate and respectful of the community.
  1. Building a Strong, Legal Rental Business : Following Florida's zoning laws not only keeps you legally safe but also builds trust and a good reputation with local stakeholders. This paves the way for sustainable growth in the vacation rental industry.

Regulatory Exemptions and Special Considerations

Florida's unique climate for short-term rentals includes specific rules and exemptions that can make the regulatory process easier for certain types of rentals. Understanding these exemptions is essential for property owners who want to follow Florida's short-term rental laws while taking advantage of allowed flexibility.

1. Exemptions for Hosted Rentals

In Florida, hosted rentals (where the owner stays on-site during the guest’s stay) do not need the usual licensing. This exemption applies if you rent out individual rooms instead of the whole house. Knowing about this can help smaller hosts comply with the law more easily and operate smoothly.

2. The Homestead Exemption and Short-Term Rentals

Managing short-term rentals while living in the home can get tricky, especially with the Homestead Exemption, which offers up to $50,000 in property tax relief. This tax relief is significant and might be affected by how often you rent out your property. Hosts need to understand how their rental frequency could impact their eligibility for this exemption to avoid any unexpected tax issues and stay compliant with state regulations.

Summary:

Understanding Florida’s licensing and regulatory requirements for short-term rentals can be complex. To ensure your vacation rental is compliant and successful, it's highly recommended to consult with a professional subject matter expert or licensed real estate consultant. These experts provide personalized guidance on licensing, taxes, and zoning laws, helping you secure your investment and avoid legal issues. Reach out to a qualified professional today for peace of mind and business success.

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