Florida has historically been one of the best locations to invest in Airbnb. The mild weather, the beautiful beaches, the natural attractions, and the tourist destinations are some factors that bring visitors year-round and make Florida markets a profitable choice for vacation rental investors.
However, before deciding to purchase a vacation rental property in the Sunshine State, investors should study carefully the applicable Florida short-term rental laws. While Florida benefits from favorable regulations, there are certain requirements that all hosts need to meet.
Overall, all vacation rentals in Florida need to be licensed as long as the host does not remain on site throughout the entire stay. Here, we will take a detailed look at the Florida Airbnb rental regulations at the state level and also dive into the city-level requirements for the most prominent vacation rental markets.
*Awning full-service property management is 15% of revenue and includes navigating the legal requirements and paperwork of setting up a vacation rental.
Florida’s Definition of a Short Term Rental
Florida has a clear definition of vacation rentals. According to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR), these are defined 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.”
Based on this definition, there are two main types of vacation rentals as per Florida’s short-term rental regulations:
- Vacation rental condo: A unit or a group of units location in a building where the units are individually owned that are rented out transiently.
- Vacation rental dwelling: A single-family home, townhouse, duplex, triplex, or quadruplex that is rented out transiently.
If you are renting out an entire unit over three times in a calendar year for periods of less than 30 days or you advertise the unit to the public as a place regularly rented out to guests, you must obtain a license from the DBPR.
An important exception is renting out a single room or rooms which do not qualify as public lodging and a DBPR license is thus not required.
The Florida definition of vacation rentals is similar to how these properties are defined in other major markets, like California. An important difference, though, is that the State of California limits transient occupancy to a maximum of 180 days per calendar year if the property is non-owner occupied. Meanwhile, Florida does not apply such a limit at the state level.
Starting a Short Term Rental Business in Florida
The first step in starting a new Airbnb business in Florida is applying for a vacation rental license at the DBPR. You can submit an online application or apply in person by submitting a printed application. The DBPR recommends applying online.
According to the short-term rental rules in Florida, you will need to provide the following information in your application:
- The rental location address(es) for all units to be licensed.
- A completed DBPR HR-7020 which constitutes a Certificate of Balcony Inspection for units that are more than three stories in height and the railings, staircases, and/or balconies are not in the common areas.
- Fees which can be paid online with a credit card.
Importantly, you can combine multiple vacation rental units of the same type (condo or dwelling) in a single application. However, you cannot operate both condos and dwellings on the same license.
Unlike hotels and restaurants, vacation rentals do not require an opening inspection. The only inspection needed for Florida short-term rentals is a Certificate of Balcony Inspection for railings, stairwells, and balconies that are not common to the entire building. In line with the safety regulations of the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, an Airbnb property owner must file for such a certificate every three years.
Applying as a new vacation rental owner or changing the owner requires a non-refundable fee of $50. In addition, investors pay a half-year or full-year fee, which starts at $90 for a half-year license for a single rental unit and $170 for a full-year license. The fees have built in discounts for additional rental units.
Keep in mind that according to Florida's short-term rental laws, lodging licenses for vacation rentals are valid for one year, after which they need to be renewed so that you continue running your business legally.
Short Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Florida
Getting a lodging license for a short-term rental in Florida requires applying on the DBPR website or completing a printed application at their office. Online applications are recommended so that the applicant can track the application status.
Unlike other popular Airbnb locations, the State of Florida does not impose restrictions on licensing short-term rentals. Both condos and dwellings such as single-family homes and small multi-family properties can operate a vacation rental business, whether or not owner-occupied. Renting out a single room or a few rooms other than the entire unit does not classify as a public lodging and does not require a license.
According to the short-term rental laws in Florida, a lodging license lasts for a maximum of one year, but you can also apply for a half-year license if you plan to operate a vacation rental only temporarily.
The license allows you to rent out your entire unit for periods of less than 30 days, as frequently as you want, for as many days in a calendar year as you want, without being on site. This is a major difference from regulations in other popular Airbnb locations which works in favor of Florida vacation rental owners.
License Renewals for Short Term Rentals in Florida
Licenses for vacation rentals in the State of Florida are valid for one year. Afterwards, they need to be renewed in order to continue operating an Airbnb business legally. The renewal process is like the new license application process.
It is important to note that licenses are not transferable from one individual or one place to another. If you change the owner or the property, you need to apply for a new license.
Required Documents for Florida Short Term Rentals
To apply for a lodging certificate for a Florida vacation rental, you need:
- Account: A DBPR online services account for both online and printed applications.
- Florida Sales Tax Number of proof of exemption: This can be obtained at the Department of Revenue, Sales Tax Division.
- Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN): You can submit a FEIN application SS-4 at the U. S. Internal Revenue Service at https://www.irs.gov/formsinstructions or 1-800-829-4933.
- Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN): The ITIN is available from the IRS to individuals who are not eligible for a SSN because of their status as an alien. It is available to alien operators on their form W-7. To obtain the form, you can visit http://www.irs.gov/forms-instructions or call 1-800-829-4933.
- Addresses of all vacation rental units for which you are applying: Each rental unit or house address needs to be submitted online to the DBPR.
- Completed DBPR HR-70 form, Certificate of Balcony Inspection, if applicable: The certificate is valid for three years from the date of inspection.
- Application and license fees: There is a one-time application processing fee of $50 in addition to a licensing fee based on the type of license and number of rental units. You can access an automated fee calculator. For questions, you can call 850-487-1395.
- Mailing address, optional, if applicable.
Florida Short Term Rental Taxes
Florida short-term rental operators pay several different taxes. These include:
- Income tax: Payable annually to the federal government and the state government. This is paid on taxable income, or income after allowed expense deductions.
- State sales tax: Equivalent to 6% in Florida. This is paid to the Florida Department of Revenue.
- County discretionary sales surtax: Varies for each county. The county rates can be found on the DR-15DSS form.
- Local option transient rental tax which varies between counties: For some counties this tax is reported and remitted to the Florida Department of Revenue, while for others it is reported and remitted directly to the county. The county rates and method of reporting and remitting can be found on the DR-15TDT form.
To qualify for federal tax deductions, your property should meet the U.S. government's definition of a short-term rental. In brief, you need to rent out your property for a minimum of 14 days each calendar year and use the property for personal reasons for only 14 days in a calendar year or 10% of the time that the property is occupied.
If you meet these criteria, you can qualify for the following tax benefits and deductions for operating an Airbnb:
- Property repairs and maintenance
- Insurance premiums
- Utilities including electricity, gas, water, and others
- Rental supplies such as bed linens, bath towels, kitchen supplies, and others
- Legal and accounting fees
Statewide Short Term Rental Rules in Florida
Florida vacation rentals must comply with strict sanitation and safety rules and regulations.
According to the Florida short-term rental laws, the sanitation requirements apply to both common areas such as halls, entrances, and stairwells and private spaces and features including kitchen appliances, refrigeration equipment, water systems, dishes, bedding, and linens.
The Florida authorities take safety regulations seriously as well. There are specific requirements not only for railings, stairwells, and balconies but also for things like heating, ventilation, boilers, locking devices, smoke alarms, electrical wiring, fire extinguishers, automatic fire sprinklers, and others.
Short Term Rental Rules By Florida City
Florida state law prohibits local governments from banning short-term rentals altogether and from limiting the length or frequency of stays. These Florida laws make the Sunshine State one of the preferred markets for investors interested in vacation rental investing.
County and city governments can pass their own rules in order to control the negative impact of vacation rentals on local communities.
Clearwater Beach Short Term Rental Laws
Clearwater Beach has some of the toughest Airbnb rules in the State of Florida. The city does not allow short-term rentals in residentially zoned districts. This means that residential property owners cannot lease or rent out their properties for less than 31 days or one calendar month. While residential properties can be advertised as monthly rentals, they cannot be advertised for daily or weekly rentals.
Meanwhile, short-term rentals are allowed in Tourist Districts or Business Districts. What is required in this case - besides the state-level Florida short-term rental laws - is a Business Tax Receipt.
Destin/Fort Walton Short Term Rental Laws
Besides the state-wide Florida short-term rental laws, owners in Destin/Fort Walton have to follow a few additional rules specific to this area. Renting out on a short-term basis is permitted only in certain Destin/Fort Walton zoning districts.
Short-term rentals need to be registered with the local authorities. Getting a short-term rental registration requires a City of Destin Local Business Tax Receipt and Application, which can be obtained by visiting the Building Division or calling 850-837-4242. The registration fee ranges from $500 for total square footage of less than or equal to 2,499 sq. ft. to $700 for equal to or greater than 5,000 sq. ft. Registrations are valid for one year and need to be renewed annually.
Importantly, based on the Airbnb regulations in Destin, a maximum of two adults can stay per room besides another four persons per property. The overall maximum overnight capacity is limited to 24 persons per house, regardless of the number of bedrooms.
In case of a change of ownership, a grandfathered status remains in effect for five years as long as the new owner does not abandon the use.
Jacksonville Short Term Rental Laws
Unlike the State of Florida, the City of Jacksonville defines a vacation rental as the transient rental of a room, rooms, or an entire dwelling for compensation for a period of less than 30 days. Short-term rentals may be conditionally approved in only two zones, including General Commercial and Historic Core. All other residential districts do not allow renting out on a short-term basis.
The only exception are owner-occupied residences on the Jacksonville Contributing Historic Landmark List. Properties there might be given a Conditional Use Permit for Bed and Breakfast facilities, subject to a review by the Planning Commission.
In order to run an Airbnb business in one of the two zones where this might be allowed, an owner needs to get a land use permit from the City of Jacksonville Planning Department. Upon receiving this permit, hosts need to apply for a business license from the City of Jacksonville.
For further information, you can contact the City of Jacksonville Planning Department at 541-899-6873.
Kissimmee Short Term Rental Laws
Kissimmee imposes further restrictions besides the state-wide short-term rental laws in Florida. Here, short-term rentals are defined as guest stays of less than six months. Operating a short-term rental business is only allowed in certain zoning districts, available at the City of Kissimmee Planning Division.
Sometimes vacation rental operators might need to get a conditional use permit from the City. Owners need to apply for a Business Tax Receipt in person, by mail, or by email. Receiving a Business Tax Receipt for a short-term rental requires an inspection with the Fire Department.
Miami Short Term Rental Laws
Miami has imposed some major restrictions on the operation of short term rentals in the city. For properties designated as Estate or Low Density Residential on the CDMP Land Use Map Plan, the Responsible Party - usually the owner - must reside on the property for more than six months in a calendar year. Moreover, the rental may occur at the time when the Responsible Party resides on the property. Properties located on other land use categories do not face such restrictions.
All Miami vacation rentals can have an overnight occupancy of no more than two persons per bedroom in addition to another two persons per property. The maximum overnight occupancy should not exceed 12 persons, excluding children under the age of three years.
In addition to obtaining the documents required by the Florida short term rental laws, Responsible Parties need to obtain a Certificate of Use which requires a property inspection for a total cost of $136.17. Certificates of Use are valid for a year and can be renewed at the same cost.
Naples Short Term Rental Laws
After recent changes in the regulations governing short-term rentals, Naples has become one of the most Airbnb-friendly cities in the State of Florida. Unlike other locations in Collier County, running a vacation rental business in the City of Naples does not require registration.
All that owners need to do to run a legal Airbnb business in Naples is to make sure that they comply with the Florida short-term rental laws.
Orlando Short Term Rental Laws
The City of Orlando prohibits short-term rentals of entire living spaces. Renting out on a short-term basis is allowed only under a home sharing or bed-and-breakfast arrangement.
While the homeowner lives on site, they can rent out up to half the bedrooms for 1 to 29 days under the Home Share category. This requires a registration with the City of Orlando and an annual fee of $275 for the first year, which becomes $100 for consecutive years. In addition, an owner can have only one booking at a time.
Under the Bed and Breakfast category, a homeowner living on site can rent out all bedrooms except for their bedroom for a period of 1 day to an entire season. This requires getting a Business Tax Receipt.
Pompano Beach Short Term Rental Laws
Pompano Beach exhibits some of the most forbearing vacation rental laws and regulations in the State of Florida. A short-term rental is defined in Pompano Beach as any dwelling rented out by the day, week, month, or any other time length for a term of six months or fewer in a calendar year.
Besides the documents required by the Florida short-term rental laws, owners also need to get a short-term rental permit from the Development Services Director at the City of Pompano Beach. Permits are valid for one year, starting on October 1st and expiring on September 30th. The first-time application fee is $675 for a single-family home or a duplex and $750 for a triplex or a quadplex. The renewal application fee is $375.
Together with the application for a short-term permit, you should also submit a detailed interior floor plan with all bedrooms, exits, and fire extinguisher locations. It is also needed to submit a copy of the standard rental agreement and the rest of the documents stipulated by the Airbnb regulations in Florida.
Importantly, permits are not transferable, meaning that a permit pertains to an individual owner for use at a specific property. Renting out a second property by the same owner or changing ownership of the property requires the issuance of a new permit.
Saint Petersburg Short Term Rental Laws
Operating an Airbnb business in the City of Saint Petersburg is challenging because of the existing regulations. Properties can be rented out for periods of less than thirty days in zoning districts that allow hotels and motels. However, in the rest of the city, transient occupancy of less than thirty days is allowed only for only three times in twelve consecutive months.
Vacation rental operators need to get only the documents required across the State of Florida.
Sarasota Short Term Rental Laws
The City of Sarasota has imposed specific requirements for properties in the residential zones of the Coastal Islands Overlay District that are rented out for a period of less than thirty days when the owner is not present on site.
Vacation rentals need to get a certificate of registration from the city. The application fee for the initial certificate of registration is $250, while it is $150 for a renewed certificate. The fee for the initial required inspection is included in the application fee, but a first re-inspection costs $50.
The City of Sarasota regulates the maximum occupancy of vacation rentals in residential single-family zone districts. It is capped at two persons per bedroom plus two additional persons per property, for a total allowed number of ten persons per property, excluding children under six years of age. In residential multi-family zone districts, the maximum occupancy is limited to two persons per bedroom besides two more persons per property, for a total number of twelve persons per property, excluding children under six years of age.
Airbnb hosts in Sarasota need to follow all the Florida short-term rental laws and regulations.
Tampa Short Term Rental Laws
While the City of Tampa does not regulate the short-term rental market, Hillsborough County, where Tampa is located, has imposed certain regulations applicable to owners in Tampa.
In specific, properties can be rented for seven days or fewer at a time only if they are in certain city zones.
Here, vacation rentals are expected to meet all the licensing and taxing requirements of the State of Florida.
In recent years, Florida has proven its place as one of the top markets for Airbnb investments in the US. The fact that it has adopted relatively conducive legislation on vacation rentals is definitely one of the leading factors for this. Investors need to study not only the state-level Florida short-term rental laws but also the county- and city-level regulations before deciding where to buy a property in the Sunshine State.