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Where are vacation rentals illegal in the United States?

By Stephon
Nov. 13, 2018 | Updated Nov. 21, 2018



Passport and leather bag

A passport and bag ready for the next adventure.

Vacation rental platforms, like Airbnb, have exploded in popularity over the past decade. Much of the popularity of these platforms can be attributed to the increasing interest in urban tourism. These platforms have expanded the tourism zones in many cities into residential areas, and far beyond traditional touristy areas in the city centers and near landmarks. But the expansion of urban tourism into residential neighborhoods has been met with resistance, particularly in cities which already had high housing cost burdens, like New York and San Francisco. Some local governments are blaming vacation rental platforms for artificially increasing the housing costs in their cities by removing housing inventory from rental markets. They claim that many units are being removed from the market to create de facto hotels and leaving less inventory for residents. Cities are starting to address this perceived problem through new laws, and increased enforcement of existing laws. Since cities are mostly taking the problem into their own hands, the solution will vary from place to place.

So, where exactly are vacation rentals legal, and where are they not?

Starting with the top 10 most visited cities in the U.S., per Business Insider, we have begun to compile a list. New York City Legal status: Mixed A law in New York State, that predates sites like Airbnb, makes it illegal for a home to be rented out for less than 30 days, unless the permanent resident is present during the stay. This means that if someone is renting an extra bedroom in their home, and they are present in the home for the duration of the stay, then it is legal. However, it is illegal for a person to go on vacation and charge guests to rent their apartment while they are gone. Additionally, a new law passed in New York City in the summer of 2018 now requires vacation rental platforms to provide the city with data on a monthly basis that will help better enforce the state law. Los Angeles Legal status: Legal, restrictions proposed As of this writing, vacation rentals are mostly legal in Los Angeles. But there is legislation pending that would restrict residents to only renting their primary residence, and limit the amount of time that their home can be rented to 120 days per year. The legislation would also prohibit residents in rent-stabilized housing from renting their homes on vacation rental platforms. Orlando Legal status: Mixed Like New York, it is legal for Orlando residents to rent out rooms in their homes, so long as they are present for the duration of the stay, and the stay is less than 30 days. The resident must obtain a permit and adhere to occupancy regulations stipulated by the government. It apparently remains illegal for residents to rent out their homes when they are not present. Las Vegas Legal status: Legal As you might expect in the city where anything goes, vacation rentals are legal. While authorities have passed legislation to regulate the practice in recent years, it is largely does not affect visitors. Chicago Legal status: Mixed In a very Chicago-like fashion, vacation rental platforms must apply for a license to list properties in Chicago. Residents who would like to list their homes on a vacation rental platform must also obtain a license from the city government. Violators are subject to heavy fines. As of this writing, it appears that Airbnb is the only platform that has a license to list rentals in Chicago. Washington, D.C. Legal status: Legal, with restrictions Like the proposed legislation in Los Angeles, D.C. city officials recently passed legislation to limit the amount of time that a resident can rent their home while they are absent, and also restricted residents from short-term rentals in properties that are not their primary residence. San Francisco Legal status: Legal, with restrictions San Francisco requires residents who rent for less than 30 days to register with the city government if they will not be present during the stay. Residents are also capped to only rent for 90 days per year, while they are not present in the home Miami Legal status: Mostly illegal, mixed The cities of Miami and Miami Beach both have ordinances on the books that effectively outlaw short-term vacation rentals. However, a Florida state law may invalidate the ordinances set by the city of Miami. The city of Miami Beach is not subject to this same invalidation because that city’s law was enacted before the Florida state law took effect. Denver Legal status: Legal Denver residents are restricted from renting out homes other than their primary residence, and must register with the city government, but the practice of short-term home rentals are largely legal in the city of Denver. Atlanta Legal status: Legal-ish Atlanta residents are required to obtain a business license and hotel license to operate short term rentals. They also must comply with regulations stipulated by the city government. These are probably onerous tasks for the person who is just trying to make a few extra dollars while they are away on vacation, so many listings are probably illegal. Maybe try a home exchange instead? Has there been an update? Drop it in the comments! Stephon Business Insider list of 10 most-visited cities in the US

Stephon Owens is the Founder and CEO of Vezpuchi.

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