As of April 1, 2021, certification of a noise detection device is required for Hollywood, Fla., vacation rentals. Along with regions like Henderson County, Nev., which includes tourist magnet Las Vegas, the popular Miami-area vacation destination has made it mandatory to show proof of an approved noise monitor in all rental properties seeking short term rental approval. So what does that mean for you as a Hollywood short-term rental property owner or manager?
Whether you’re applying for a short-term rental license for the first time, or renewing your existing license for your Hollywood rental, you will need to sign and submit a document certifying that you’re aware of the noise detection requirement, and that your property adheres to it. The document, which notes that, “The City Manager may refuse to issue or renew a license or may revoke a vacation rental license issued under this chapter, if the property owner has willfully withheld or falsified any information required for a vacation rental license,” must be notarized.
This should probably go without saying, but your noise monitor needs to be installed the right way and able to detect noise. Fortunately, noise detection devices are extremely easy to install. Like many other smart home devices, installation begins with downloading and opening an app on your phone. Once you click on the “setup sensor” tab, you simply find an unobstructed wall outlet within 75 feet of your wifi router, and follow the setup prompts to firmly secure your sensor and ensure that it is registering noise. Once your noise control device is installed and working properly, you can monitor it from your phone, no matter where you are.
While noise detection devices do not record or play specific sounds—rather they monitor decibel levels—they are monitoring devices. And, as such, rental listing companies such as Airbnb and Vrbo require that guests be notified of their presence in rental properties. Notification of noise monitoring devices should be included in the “House Rules” section of your property’s rental listing. There is currently no legal requirement that property managers or owners notify guests of noise level monitors—so, if for example, you only rent out your short-term rental property by word of mouth, you don’t technically need to alert guests to the noise control device. But it is always a good idea to be forthcoming about the device in your property, if, for no other reason, than to encourage guests to manage their volume preemptively, rather than having to take measures when it gets out of hand.
One of the great benefits of having a noise detector in your Hollywood vacation rental is being able to take action on noise issues before they go too far, so that your property’s neighbors have a peaceful environment. As soon as your noise monitor detects an issue, your guests receive a simple automated message alerting them to the situation. Nine times out of 10, guests decrease their volume to an acceptable level, without any further action needed, making for a peaceful neighborhood, happy guests and a happy property owner (you!).
In those rare cases where guests continue being loud or rowdy, despite receiving notifications about their excessive volume, you may need to take action. If the noise level at a property exceeds your customized programmed levels, you will receive an alert and a link to the property’s Noise Risk Score graph. The graph takes noise and turns it into data so you can evaluate the property’s risk in real time. You can then decide to message or call your guests. 80% of the time, guests quiet down within 15 minutes of being contacted.
With its warm weather and tropical vibe, Hollywood is the perfect spot for al fresco socializing and festivities. But when outdoor revelry gets out of hand, it can be a major nuisance to neighbors and other rental guests. To prevent outdoor noise from becoming a problem, consider installing an outdoor noise monitor, along with an indoor device. Installation of outdoor sensors is similar to indoor sensors, but should be done after the indoor sensor is installed, and mounted within 100 feet of the indoor sensor. It’s also a good idea to avoid placing your outdoor noise sensor near noise-makers in your short-term rentals, such as AC units, hot tubs and generators.
While most well-maintained, well-monitored short-term rentals coexist harmoniously with their long-term neighbors, conflicts do occasionally arise. If either you or the online vacation rental marketplace where you list your property receives a noise complaint that you feel may be either unjustified or completely untrue, a noise monitor will provide you with the documentation to defend against the complaint. If the detected decibel levels during the time of the purported disturbance are within normal limits, you’ve got clear evidence that no violation occurred. If, on the other hand, your noise device shows that guests were shouting, playing loud music or otherwise being excessively noisy, you have a way to verify your neighbor’s complaint.
The most important advantage of excessive-noise monitoring for Airbnb hosts, VRBO hosts and vacation-rental owners and managers, is preventing issues before they happen. By letting guests know they are expected to keep noise within acceptable limits—and giving them a little reminder when they don’t—you can avoid serious problems including property damage, angry neighbors and visits by the police to your Hollywood, Fla. rental. And you can relax and take advantage of an excellent source of passive income, without expensive fines and penalties eating into your profits.
Do you own a Florida vacation rental property, or are you thinking about investing in one? Here are 8 essential things you need to know as you navigate Florida short-term rental licensing and operating regulations.
Florida state law defines a vacation rental 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.”
That means just about any short-term rental that is not a time-share, hotel, resort, inn, bed-and-breakfast, or other rental property where the host lives on site at the property, can be considered a vacation rental. Owning one or more of these types of properties allows you to make a vacation rental offer on each.
The state of Florida requires that all vacation rentals hold a current license issued through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).
The Florida DBPR issues short-term or “transient” rental licenses according to these limits:
Vacation Rental – Condominium
A license will be issued for a unit or group of units in a condominium or cooperative.
Vacation Rental – Dwelling
A license will be issued for a single-family house, a townhouse, or a unit or group of units in a duplex, triplex, quadruplex, or other dwelling unit that has four or fewer units collectively.
The location of the property/unit, the number of units involved, and who operates the property/units determines who holds and maintains the license:
A Single license may include one single-family house or townhouse, or a unit or group of units within a single building that are owned and operated by the same individual person or entity, but not a licensed agent.
A Group license is a license issued to a licensed agent to cover all units within a building or group of buildings in a single complex.
A Collective license is issued to a licensed agent who represents a collective group of houses or units found on separate locations. A collective license is limited to 75 units or less and is restricted to counties within one district.
Guests who stay in short-term rentals in Florida are required to pay specific taxes as part of their total reservation fees. The property owner, or in some cases the listing company on behalf of the owner, then remits those taxes to the state of Florida.
Currently, Florida charges a 6% state sales tax, plus any applicable discretionary sales surtax. In addition, some Florida counties impose their own local option taxes on short-term rental accommodations, such as the tourist development tax (TDT), convention development tax, tourist impact tax, or municipal resort tax. While these taxes may be paid to the county, they are always reported directly to the Department of Revenue.
Some Florida counties may impose their own rules on what can and can’t be inside or outside a short-term rental unit. They may also mandate the use of a noise detection device, either inside the property, outside the property, or both, and may levy heavy fines if this requirement is not met. Some municipalities also have specific cleaning and sanitization requirements between guest stays, and these are subject to changes as COVID-related recommendations evolve, so it’s important that you pay attention to notifications from your county, and actively check in on updates regularly.
In general, though, these basic requirements govern all Florida short-term rental properties:
These are some of the most common situations that result in fines or penalties being levied against short-term rental owners in Florida:
The good news is that it is relatively easy to avoid profit-crushing fines and penalties by properly advertising the property to ensure that rules are prominently and clearly stated up front, pre-scheduling renewal payments before they are due, vetting guests before allowing them to book, and making sure that all features comply with the most recent short-term rental rules in the property’s city, county, and, in some cases, HOA.
Generally speaking, owners of Florida short-term rentals must renew rental licenses and/or permits annually. First-time fees are often higher, and decrease when renewed on an annual basis. There may be a nominal “application fee” as well. The total usually comes out to about $350 annually, including state and local fees, but can vary depending on the property’s specific municipality.
Owning a Florida vacation rental—whether on the Gold Coast, Emerald Coast, Gulf Coast, Palm Coast, in the Disney World Resort area, or in legendary Key West—can be an excellent way to generate passive income in today’s booming short-term rental market. The Sunshine State is, after all, one of the nation’s hottest spots for enjoying white sand beaches, sparkling blue ocean, world-class fishing and water activities, and ecological treasures like the Florida Everglades. It’s also the country’s fastest-growing market for short-term rentals, as savvy investors respond to travelers seeking more flexible, affordable alternatives to traditional hotel and resort stays.
With an occupancy rate of 50% or higher considered optimal for short-term rental profitability, Florida is a great bet for rental investors. According to top real-estate investment analytics site Mashvisor, 2020 was a big year for short-term rental occupancy in Florida, despite the global coronavirus pandemic, and the state is poised for an explosion in short-term rental business in 2021.
A glimpse at 2020’s Florida-city occupancy rates, according Mashvisor’s recent market analysis:
Cocoa Beach: 66.8%
St. Petersburg: 66.6%
Key West: 66.2%
Delray Beach: 61.3%
Palm Bay: 61.2%
Fort Walton Beach: 59.7%
Panama City Beach: 59.4%
Fort Myers Beach: 59.4%
Fort Lauderdale: 59.3%
Fort Myers: 58.7%
Miami Gardens: 58.1%
Boca Raton: 58.0%
Cape Coral: 57.9%
West Palm Beach: 57.4%
Daytona Beach: 57.0%
Marco Island: 56.8%
Miami Beach: 56.3%
Panama City: 55.7%
Port St. Lucie: 55.7%
Vero Beach: 55.5%
Crystal River: 55.0%
Lake Worth: 54.1%
Pompano Beach: 53.6%
Madeira Beach: 52.8%
Deerfield Beach: 52.4%
Bonita Springs: 52.3%
Key Largo: 52.2%
The Villages: 49.9%
Coral Gables: 49.9%
Along with projected high occupancy rates and increasing interest in short-term rental investing in the state, many municipalities are issuing new rules and ordinances designed to curtail excessive noise and parties, which may cause a disturbance for neighbors. By making sure that your property is protected against rowdy guests and raucous socializing, you aren’t just being a good short-term rental neighbor in your residential neighborhood, you’re ultimately ensuring your peace of mind, and securing your property against losses and damage. And that’s what smart real estate investing is really all about!