Florida’s Short-Term Rental Regulations
By Nathan Guss|10 min|November 2023
Starting an STR in Florida can be a lucrative venture. Read on to learn more about your tax obligations, local ordinances, and state requirements.
In Florida’s dynamic property market, short-term rentals (STRs) are a hot topic for homeowners and investors. With the state’s appeal to tourists and susceptibility to extreme weather, STRs serve as both vacation escapes and critical temporary housing. Here is an overview of state and municipal regulations.
Statewide Rules for Short-Term Rentals in Florida
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) has a just few regulations that vary based on the type of rental.
License Requirements for Different Types of Rentals
Are you interested in renting out a room? You’re in luck. Since it isn’t considered a public lodging establishment, you won’t need a license. But keep in mind that there may be local ordinances for these rentals.
Renting Entire Units or Properties
If you’re renting an entire unit more than three times in a year for periods of less than thirty days or if it’s regularly advertised, you’ll need a license from the DBPR.
Types of Licenses
- Vacation Rental – Condominium: For units within condominiums or cooperatives.
- Vacation Rental – Dwelling: For single-family homes, townhouses, or units within duplexes, triplexes, quadruplexes, or smaller multi-unit dwellings.
Application Process and Requirements
Here is what you need:
- Main Address: Required for administrative purposes, this address should be the primary one for the owner or operator.
- Rental Location Address: You must provide the complete physical address for each rental unit.
- Fees: Application fees can be paid online. The Lodging Fees Page on the DBPR website offers fee estimates.
- Balcony Inspection Certificate: This is required for any public lodging establishment that’s either three or more stories in height or has a vertical distance of seventeen feet or more from the lowest level to any balcony.
- Human Trafficking Training: The application requires that you agree that employees in housekeeping or guest services roles will receive mandatory training on human trafficking awareness.
- Online Management: Rental unit locations should be maintained through the DBPR’s online services account for efficient management and updates.
All STR hosts in Florida must collect and remit the state sales tax (6%). But don’t worry—municipalities usually have additional taxes!
Homestead Exemption Considerations
You should be aware that your STR business can have implications for your Homestead Exemption, which can provide up to $50,000 in property tax relief. Renting out your property can mean you lose this exemption. Florida law does offer a provision allowing the rental of your home for short periods: you can keep the exemption if your property is rented out for no more than thirty days per calendar year for two consecutive years if you don’t exceed the limit.
Although somewhat limited by the state, Florida’s municipalities can impose regulations on STRs. Here are two examples to give you an idea of what to expect in your town. Wherever you live in the Sunshine State, check your city’s website and contact a local government official for the latest updates or if you have any questions.
Miami STR Rules
Miami-Dade County has specific ordinances and requirements that govern these rentals.
Definition and Ordinance
A short-term vacation rental in Miami-Dade County is any dwelling unit or residence—including those in condominiums, cooperatives, or apartment buildings—rented for less than thirty days or one calendar month, whichever is less. This applies to both property owners in unincorporated areas and those in municipalities.
Licensing and Tax Requirements
Vacation rentals must be licensed by the State of Florida and registered with the Florida Department of Revenue for tax purposes. Owners must also register for a Tourist Tax Account to collect and remit the 6% Convention and Tourist Development taxes for rentals of 6 months or less (yes, in addition to the state sales tax).
Certificate of Use (CU)
You will need to get a CU before listing and advertising the property. This certificate, which includes details such as maximum occupancy and responsible party contact information, must be visibly displayed in the rental. You are required to renew it annually with an inspection fee and additional associated costs totaling $136.17.
- Maximum occupancy: Limited to up to 2 people per bedroom, plus 2 additional people per property, up to a maximum of 12, excluding children under 3 years of age.
- Residency requirement: The operator must reside for more than six months per calendar year in properties designated as Estate or Low Density Residential.
- Background Checks: Responsible parties are required to verify with the Miami-Dade County Police Department that prospective guests are not registered sexual offenders or predators. If they are, the person in question cannot stay for 4 or more days per month if the rental is within 2,500 feet of a school.
- Swimming Pool Safety: Rentals with private swimming pools must implement safety features, such as pool barriers, covers, or alarms as mandated by Florida law. This does not apply to properties with community pools.
Other Local Ordinances and Laws
STR businesses must comply with all local regulations on noise, waste disposal, parking, and advertising and with state and federal laws related to anti-discrimination and fair housing.
Enforcement and Penalties
Miami-Dade County enforces these regulations strictly. Violations can lead to fines ranging from $100 to $2,500. Repeated non-compliance can result in liens being placed on your property.
Fort Lauderdale STR Rules
Fort Lauderdale has had a specific ordinance governing vacation rentals since November 1, 2015. Properties rented to guests more than three times a year for less than thirty days are subject to these rules.
Key Aspects of the Ordinance
Definition of Vacation Rental: Includes any unit or group of units in a condominium, cooperative, or any individually or collectively owned house (up to a four-family unit) rented to temporary occupants. Properties that are advertised but not part of a timeshare project also fall under this category.
Registration and Compliance: The Community Enhancement and Compliance Division oversees the Vacation Rental Registration Program. They ensure operators comply with state/local licenses, tax requirements, and minimum housing and life safety standards.
Registration Requirement: All residential properties (single-family to four-family houses or dwelling units, or condominiums) advertised for periods of 30 days or less must register (excepting timeshares).
Exemptions for Accessory Dwellings
Accessory dwellings (defined as a secondary living unit with a separate kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area within the same structure, or the same lot, as the primary residence) in certain zoning districts (RS-8 and RD-15) cannot be used as vacation rentals. You can check your zoning here.
Ordinance Amendment (September 19, 2023)
In September 2023, the ordinance was amended with a creative requirement to handle the issue of neighborhood disturbances caused by STRs. You now must device that detects noise levels in each rental. This device alerts you and guests to excessive noise—which should help keep the peace with your neighbors! That said, it does impose an additional cost on operators.
In Fort Lauderdale, you must obtain state and county licenses before registering with the city. You’ll need licenses from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and Department of Revenue, along with a Broward County Business tax receipt. Be ready to provide proof of property ownership. Business entities must present documentation from Sunbiz or register with the State of Florida Division of Corporations. The application requires a sample lease agreement and evidence of off-street parking.
Payment and Inspection Process
After Fort Lauderdale approves a vacation rental application, you receive an invoice for the registration and Business Tax Account fees. After payment, the property undergoes a safety inspection scheduled by a code officer. After a successful inspection, you’ll receive a Certificate of Compliance within three business days.
Registration Fee Schedule
The initial registration fee in Fort Lauderdale, covering up to four units and including the first inspection, is $350.00. Additional fees for reinspection or agent transfer are $75.00 and $35.00, respectively.
Occupancy and Compliance
Fort Lauderdale bases vacation rental occupancy on the number of legal bedrooms, with a limit of two people per bedroom. Rentals must comply with the city’s Vacation Rental Inspection Checklist, which includes requirements such as sea turtle lighting compliance, a diagram showing parking spaces, information posted about the nearest hospital, and so on.
Short-term rental operators in Fort Lauderdale must register for and pay a 6% Tourist Development Tax in addition to the state sales tax.
Staying informed and adapting to regulatory changes is key to providing a safe, enjoyable experience for guests, while also supporting the state’s thriving tourism sector. Best of luck with your STR business!
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