Every city and country has its own set of laws that apply to Airbnb hosts. While it’s important to check with your local governing council before beginning, some of the most common regulations include:
- Business Licenses: Check with your local governing agency to find out the rules regarding business licenses. You may have to apply for one and pay a small fee, but it will generally not take too long.
- Taxes: Aside from your own income taxes, many tourist hotspots require guests to pay an additional tax that goes towards the city’s general funds. Find out whether your city has an additional tax and make sure to account for it in your pricing. In some cities, Airbnb has already added the tax into the listing.
- Permits: Find out whether your city requires you to get any additional permits alongside your business license.
- Safety Standards: Your property may be open to inspection to decide whether it meets certain health and regulatory standards. This could include things like having a fire escape access, maintaining cleanliness, having a fire extinguisher, and following a maximum occupancy.
In London, hosts require permission from the local city council before renting continuously throughout the year. There are recent changes to the law, and these types of laws are always evolving, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with all legal information. As it currently stands, a host in London cannot rent a single property to multiple short-term guests for more than 90 total days in a given year. Once granted permission from the council, hosts can begin to rent indefinitely. Airbnb announced that in 2017, they would limit hosts in London to 90 days unless the host provides the correct documentation.
In New York City, it’s technically illegal to rent an unlicensed property to guests for fewer than 30 days. It’s also illegal to advertise properties for rentals fewer than 30 days. Failure to comply could result in heavy fines against the host among other penalties. One of the common loopholes is that if the host is present inside of the rental property, then it’s not counted as a hotel. This is another example of old zoning laws clashing with modern technology. It’s confusing, chaotic, and not always clear, but it’s important to understand before you find yourself owing thousands in fines.
Along with these, there are also other laws that you must pay attention to. If you decide to add security cameras to the front of your property, make sure that you don’t have any directed inside. The filming of guests inside of your property may be highly illegal in your city, and you must ensure that any security cameras are only facing towards public or shared property.
While Airbnb offers some other general legal tips on their website, they do not offer unlimited legal advice. If you find that your city’s laws are overly confusing, it may be worth hiring a lawyer to go over the basics while you’re starting out to ensure you’re covered during your career. A few hours of consultation could save you from expensive liabilities in the future.