Popular vacation rental websites and Apps such as Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway, and FlipKey have changed the way people travel. More and more people around the country are choosing to rent privately owned homes as opposed to staying in hotels. The opportunity to rent your property to travelers on these vacation rental platforms has never been greater. If you are thinking about listing a property you own in the State of Florida on a vacation rental platform, there are important State/local license requirements, tax consequences, and community association restrictive covenants that potential hosts need to be aware of.
The first issue all potential hosts need to be aware of is the Florida vacation rental license requirement. Florida law defines many types of lodging establishments, including vacation rentals. Airbnb and VRBO listings for example, will be categorized as vacation rentals under Florida law, but that categorization may not apply to all listings. Section 242(1)(c), Fla. Stat. defines vacation rentals as “any unit or group of units in a condominium or cooperative or any individually or collectively owned single-family, two-family, three-family or four-family house or dwelling unit that is also a transient public lodging establishment, but that is not a timeshare project.” Transient public lodging establishments are defined under §509.013, Fla. Stat. as “any unit, group of units, dwelling, building, or group of buildings within a single complex of buildings which is rented to guests more than three times in a calendar year for periods of less than 30 days or 1 calendar month, whichever is less, or which is advertised or held out to the public as a place regularly rented to guests.”
If you are renting your entire unit, a license from the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (“DBPR”) is required if your property meets the definition of a “vacation rental” and “transient public lodging establishment.” However, if you are renting out only a single room or rooms, other than the whole unit, while you remain in the home, a vacation rental license is not required for these so called “Hosted Rentals.” The DBPR classifies vacation rentals as either a condominium or dwelling, and a different license is required for each. The links for both applications are listed below. If you operate both vacation rental condominiums and vacation rental dwellings, you may not combine them on the same license. A “Collective License” may also be issued to a group of houses or units found in separate locations that are represented by the same “licensed agent,” someone that the property owner has authorized, through a rental agreement or contract, to hold out the property for rent. All potential vacation rental hosts in Florida must be aware of these state licensing requirements.
The second issue potential hosts need to be aware of are the tax consequences. Much like a hotel or motel, vacation rentals in Florida are subject to sales tax. Vacation rental hosts must register with the Florida Department of Revenue (“DOR”), and are then expected to collect, file and remit sales tax to the DOR. Before collecting any sales tax from your guests, it is important to find out whether state or local sales tax has already been collected on your behalf, as some vacation rental platforms collect Florida sales tax for their hosts. Airbnb for example, collects and remits sales tax across the State of Florida on behalf of hosts. Airbnb also collects and remits Tourism Development Taxes on behalf of hosts in the following counties: Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lee, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, and Taylor. Florida hosts in the counties not listed must collect and remit county taxes in accordance with county law. If you are a host on a different vacation rental platform, be sure to identify which sales tax (state, local, or both) is being collected for you, or if you are required to collect sales tax on your own. Hosts are also required to file an annual tax return with the DOR and any local tax jurisdiction with which you have registered.
Local Laws & Regulations
Potential hosts also need to be aware of the local laws and regulations in the municipality that the property is located. Section 509.032(7)(b), Fla. Stat. restricts local laws, ordinances, and regulations from prohibiting vacation rentals or regulating the duration or frequency of vacation rentals. For example, a local government cannot create an ordinance that prohibits property owners from renting their property more than ten times in a year or mandates that rentals must be for at least seven days. Local governments can however, adopt rules such as requiring the owner of the property to provide a 24-hour contact who will be held responsible for making sure tenants follow the regulations on noise, the number of overnight guests, trash removal, and parking. Other rules include fines for not properly registering the property as a vacation rental, and a mandatory inspection of the property. It is important for all potential hosts to research the local rules in both the city and county where the property is located, as the rules vary across the state.
Lastly, it is important for potential hosts to be mindful of contracts or rules that binds you, such as leases, condo board or co-op rules, HOA rules, or rules established by tenant organizations. Florida law has consistently upheld these restrictive covenants as a “reasonable” restraints on alienation which are not a violation of the unit or property owner’s rights. For example, if the declaration of condominium expressly prohibits short-term vacation rentals, then you are out of luck.
If you are looking to list a property you own or operate on a vacation rental website such as Airbnb or VRBO, it is essential that you consider the state and local licensing requirements, tax consequences, and community association restrictive covenants that may govern your property. Turning your property into a vacation rental is a great way to make money, but taking shortcuts in the process may create a messy legal and monetary problem.
Kyle M. Morgan is an attorney at the full-service South Florida law firm of Brinkley Morgan, where he focuses his practice in the areas of corporate law and business development, business litigation, and marital and family law. He can be reached at 954.522.2200 or email@example.com.
 Vacation Rental – Condo Application: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/intentions2.asp?chBoard=true&SID=&boardid=200&professionid=2006
 Vacation Rental – Dwelling Application: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/intentions2.asp?chBoard=true&SID=&boardid=200&professionid=2007
 William P. Sklar, Jerry C. Edwards, Florida Community Associations Versus Airbnb and Vrbo in Florida, Fla. B.J., February 2017, at 16, 19.
 Woodside Vill. Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Jahren, 806 So. 2d 452 (Fla. 2002).