4 Desert Cities With Strict New Short-Term Vacation Rental Rules

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These 4 Coachella Valley Desert Cities Have Some Of The Strictest New Short-Term Vacation Rental Restrictions In The Country

As fall/winter Southern California desert vacation season nears, and vacation rental demand soars, it’s time for a hard look at what’s happening with vacation rental regulations in the Coachella Valley. The city of Palm Springs, with its strong occupancy rate, and investor-friendly permit regulations, continues to be a vacation-rental hotspot. But scarce property inventory and intense competition has led many to operate short-term rentals in smaller neighboring desert cities. And along with vacation-rental growth in these communities has come increased neighbor opposition, and a spate of new city council votes, ordinances and permit restrictions. Here are the new restrictions for four Coachella Valley desert cities that have voted on ordinances in the first half of 2021. 

New La Quinta Vacation Rental Restrictions

Even with the COVID-10 pandemic in full force across the country, La Quinta saw a 267% increase in neighbor noise complaints between May and July of 2020. That steep rise led to a December 2020 city council vote to tighten La Quinta’s existing vacation rental ordinance

Changes to permit rules included requiring a local STR property contact to be available 24/7, and able to respond within 30 minutes of being called by STR code enforcement or the sheriff’s department. The city council also doubled noise-ordinance and other permit violation penalties. The new fines are set at $1,000 for a first violation, $2,000 for a second and $3,000 for a third. 

As of May, 2021, per La Quinta Ordinance 591, the city added these important new changes to short-term-rental permitting:

Looking for a La Quinta vacation rental investment? These 10 La Quinta “non-issuance exempt zones” are not affected by the new stay on short-term-rental permits.

La Quinta desert villa vacation rental fire pit

New Rancho Mirage Vacation Rental Rules

Similar to La Quinta, Coachella Valley golf paradise Rancho Mirage is moving toward a ban on short-term rentals in non-gated communities. The move comes in response to a massive increase in noise complaints, along with complaints about parking. A January 2021 city council vote skewed 5-0 in favor of a stay on new and renewed permits outside of gated HOA communities. Here’s what the new Rancho Mirage short-term-rental ban means for current and prospective vacation-rental owners and property managers:

Along with the ban on new STR permits in non-restricted HOAs, Rancho Mirage is toughening up its existing STR rules. Among restrictions in this haven for poolside gatherings and al fresco festivities: No amplified sound may be used outdoors, or be audible from outside the property, at any time. 

New Regulations for Cathedral City and Palm Desert

Located between Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, popular retirement enclave Cathedral City has seen a boom in vacation rental demand over the past several years. The desert city has also experienced a major increase in neighbor complaints related to STRs in their neighborhoods. Over a 14-month period between October 2019 and November 2020, Cathedral City police reported more than 1,800 complaints and calls for service related to short-term vacation rentals, most of them about noise. 

The city has responded with a sharp curtailing of short-term rentals. The new Cathedral City short-term-rental measure, approved in March:

In Palm Desert, famed as the Coachella Valley’s upscale-retail hub, the city council took up the short-term-rental issue in December 2020. In a 3-1 vote, Palm Desert approved a new ordinance that:

Even with new restrictions and regulations, owning and operating a short-term vacation rental in the Coachella Valley can be a lucrative enterprise with proper management and marketing. Find out more about protecting vacation-rental property and profits, and avoiding noise-related fines and damage, here.

Natasha Garber covers short-term-rental industry trends, news, regulations and compliance for NoiseAware. Her posts on STR property management technology, privacy-safe noise monitoring, and licensing laws can be found weekly on the NoiseAware blog.

New Lake Tahoe Vacation Rental Ordinances – How To Comply | NoiseAware

New Lake Tahoe vacation rental restrictions have been issued in two counties—Washoe County and Placer County. The new regulations relate to parking, fire inspections and noise. A third county, El Dorado County (home to popular winter ski and summer water-activities destination South Lake Tahoe), is implementing new restrictions on vacation-home rental permitting. Here’s what the new regulations mean for Lake Tahoe short-term-rental property owners, guests and neighbors, and what you need to do to avoid penalties and fines.

Destination Lake Tahoe

With its stunning setting on the shores of 191 square miles of pristine fresh water, Lake Tahoe is one of the country’s top destinations for adventure travel, outdoor activities and weekend getaways. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this in-demand vacation destination straddles the border between California and Nevada, enticing visitors with its ski resorts, snowboard parks, and world-class hiking and mountain-biking trails. 

Over the past several years, the area has seen significant growth in short-term rentals. Washoe County alone, which includes the popular Incline Village and Crystal Bay areas, has more than 1,200 short-term rentals available to visitors for stays of less than 30 days. In Placer County, home of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and Northstar California Resort ski areas, VRBO lists about 3,000 short-term rentals, ranging from cozy wood cabins to luxury chalets to contemporary condos.

While the growth in STRs has been a boon to Lake Tahoe visitors seeking more flexible accommodations than a traditional hotel or resort stay, residents have increasingly voiced complaints about parking, boisterous groups and noise. These concerns, combined with a need for more consistent tax collection, and fire safety in this heavily wooded region, have led to the new, stricter short-term-rental license and monitoring measures.

Washoe County Short-Term Vacation Rental Regulations

The small Sierra Nevada community of Incline Village in the northern part of Lake Tahoe has about 8,700 residents. But it is home to 90% of short-term rentals in Nevada’s Washoe County, which have been only moderately regulated until now.

Following two years of public outreach and planning, Washoe County representatives first presented new ordinances governing parking, “life safety” (aka fire safety) and noise, in February of this year. The new regulations were adopted in March 2021, and will be phased in over the spring and summer, allowing for any necessary changes or updates in advance of the winter 2021 ski season. The application period starts May 1, 2021; short-term-rental guidelines, tutorials and permit applications can be accessed here.

New Short Term Rental Regulations in Washoe County & North Lake Tahoe

The major components of the new Washoe County regulations that apply to North Lake Tahoe vacation rental properties include:

Fines for rental ordinance violations are steep, with a first-violation penalty of $400, a second-violation penalty of $700, and a third-violation penalty of $1,000 and potential revocation of the STR permit.

Placer County Short-Term Vacation Rental Regulations

Some of California’s best skiing and snowboarding can be found in the part of North Lake Tahoe located in Placer County. With 12 downhill resorts to choose from, along with miles of backcountry terrain, the region attracts snow-sports aficionados from all over the world. 

There are approximately 3,800 STRs in the county, 3,600 of which are located above 5,000 feet elevation. These alpine accommodations are some of the area’s most desirable among visiting skiers and snowboarders. In recent years, area residents have expressed increasing concern about parties, parking and garbage associated with North Lake Tahoe vacation rental properties. At the same time, the county relies on revenue generated by these non-hotel travel accommodations. Now, like adjacent Washoe County in Nevada, California’s Placer County has tightened the reins on STRs, initiating stricter permitting, occupancy limits, trash mitigation and noise control. Placer County STR owners can apply for new short-term-rental permits and permit renewals here. Here are the main ordinance takeaways:

While Placer County permit fees are less than in neighboring Washoe County, compliance-violation penalties are higher. A first citation penalty will run STR owners up to $500 per day, while subsequent rental ordinance violations are set at up to $1,000 per day.

El Dorado County Short-Term Vacation Rental Regulations

Sunny South Lake Tahoe is located in El Dorado County, and boasts most of the lake’s most expansive and accessible beaches, making it a prime summer vacation destination. With just over 725 permitted Lake Tahoe vacation homes currently in the region, the county is taking a fairly restrictive stance on growth. The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors recently voted to limit the number of vacation-home rental (VHR) permits to 900 in the county’s unincorporated areas, citing resident concerns. The board also noted that in the event that more than 900 permit applications are submitted, a waiting list will be created. Additional new VHR ordinance measures include:

The penalty for a first violation offense is set at $500. If the owner is cited a second time within 18 months, that fine goes up to $750. A third violation in the 18-month window climbs to $1,000. 

Own a short-term rental in the Lake Tahoe area? Make sure you’re compliant with all new rules and regulations, to avoid neighbor complaints and costly fines. You can also help protect your rental investment by vetting guests before accepting bookings, to avoid bad actors and out-of-control events. The best way to head off neighbor complaints before they happen? Equip your property with an unobtrusive, 100% privacy-safe noise detection device that measures decibel levels and notifies guests when their volume exceeds what’s allowed.

Hollywood Fla. Requires Noise Detection Devices For Short-Term Rentals

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?

  1. You need to sign a document certifying that your property is equipped with a noise detector.
  2. You need to do your due diligence to ensure that the noise detection monitor is correctly installed and functioning properly.
  3. You need to let potential guests know upfront that your property has a noise detection device, before they book.
  4. You can rest easy, knowing that you’ll be able to address vacation rental noise issues within a matter of minutes, should they occur.
  5. But if the noise continues, it is your responsibility to deal with it before it becomes a problem for neighbors.
  6. It’s a good idea to have not just an indoor but also an outdoor noise detection monitor.
  7. You can be confident that you’ll have proof to defend against false noise complaints if you need to. 
  8. You can enjoy peace of mind, knowing that your guests and your property’s neighbors are comfortable and happy.

1. You need to sign a document certifying that your property is equipped with a noise detector.

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.

2. You need to do your due diligence to ensure that the noise detection monitor is correctly installed and functioning properly.

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.

3. You need to let potential guests know upfront that your property has a noise detection device, before they book.

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.

4. You can rest easy, knowing that you’ll be able to address vacation rental noise issues within a matter of minutes, should they occur.

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!).

5. But if the noise continues, it is your responsibility to deal with it before it becomes a problem for neighbors.

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.

6. It’s a good idea to have not just an indoor but also an outdoor noise detection monitor.

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.

7. You can be confident that you’ll have proof to defend against false noise complaints if you need to. 

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.

8. You can enjoy peace of mind, knowing that your guests and your property’s neighbors are comfortable and happy.

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.

Ultimate Guide to Buying & Owning a Florida Vacation Rental

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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.

  1. What is considered a vacation rental in Florida?
  2. What permits or licenses are required to operate a Florida vacation rental?
  3. What taxes do vacation-rental owners have to pay?
  4. What are the requirements for maintaining a Florida vacation rental?
  5. As a vacation-property owner, how can I avoid fines or penalties?
  6. How often do I have to renew my rental license and pay fees?
  7. Is owning a Florida vacation rental a good investment?
  8. What Florida cities have the highest occupancy rates?

1. What Is Considered A Vacation Rental in Florida?

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.

2. What Permits Or Licenses Are Required To Operate A Florida Vacation Rental?

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.

3. What Taxes Do Vacation-Rental Owners Have To Pay?

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.

4. What Are The Requirements For Maintaining A Florida Vacation Rental?

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:

5. As A Vacation-Property Owner, How Can I Avoid Fines Or Penalties?

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.

6. How Often Do I Have To Renew My Rental License And Pay Fees?

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.

7. Is Owning A Florida Vacation Rental A Good Investment?

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.

8. Florida Cities With The Highest Occupancy Rates

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%

Augustine: 65.1%

Orlando: 63.8%

Delray Beach: 61.3%

Palm Bay: 61.2%

Bradenton: 60.7%

Fort Walton Beach: 59.7%

Panama City Beach: 59.4%

Fort Myers Beach: 59.4%

Fort Lauderdale: 59.3%

Fort Myers: 58.7%

Miami: 58.6%

Miami Gardens: 58.1%

Boca Raton: 58.0%

Cape Coral: 57.9%

Clearwater: 57.5%

West Palm Beach: 57.4%

Pensacola: 57.1%

Daytona Beach: 57.0%

Marco Island: 56.8%

Tampa: 56.5%

Miami Beach: 56.3%

Panama City: 55.7%

Port St. Lucie: 55.7%

Lakeland: 55.6%

Vero Beach: 55.5%

Jacksonville: 55.1%

Crystal River: 55.0%

Lake Worth: 54.1%

Destin: 53.9%

Pompano Beach: 53.6%

Ocala: 53.5%

Madeira Beach: 52.8%

Naples: 52.7%

Deerfield Beach: 52.4%

Bonita Springs: 52.3%

Sarasota: 51.3%

Key Largo: 52.2%

Tallahassee: 49.9%

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!