Illegal Short Term Rentals and How to Avoid Them

Property Guard

How to Avoid Illegal Short-Term Rentals

Short term rentals have surged in popularity in the past few years. In fact, in 2019 over 50% of travelers searched for accommodations on sites like VRBO, FlipKey, HomeAway, and Airbnb. This is an incredible 277% growth of the entire industry in just a few short years. Short term rentals are the act of renting out an apartment, home, or private room for less than 31 days and they are usually fully furnished. The intent is to provide an alternative to conventional sleeping accommodations like hotels or to provide accommodations in an area that lacks them altogether. Short term rentals are notably popular in areas and cities that have a considerable amount of tourism each year. They are a way for residents and tenants in these hot spots to make money on their main home or vacation properties when not in use. However, there are restrictions put into place by many cities, towns, and HOAs to limit or outright ban the offering of your residence as a short term rental. Renting them out without the proper permit or license is often illegal and can be enforced by the local authorities when properties are found out of compliance with the rules, regulations and ordinances.

Short Term Rental Laws

With the rise in popularity of short term rentals many states, cities, and towns have come up with laws to regulate them. This has led to a patchwork of statutes designed to limit or combat the spread of these rentals. Some areas do not allow short term rentals at all, whereas others make it necessary to obtain a license or a permit. Oftentimes, there is taxes and other fees put in place that must be paid when a property is used to offer a short term rental. If these regulations are not met, then a fine can be imposed and pursued by local authorities. Short term rental monitoring solutions, such as Property Guard, can be an excellent way to ensure that residents and tenants are following the laws of the area. Our software makes it easy to find offending hosts and notify them of their infraction. If you allow short term rentals, but only if in compliance with local laws, then Property Guard can make that easier as well. We give you the tools necessary to create and issue permits while also managing the status of other properties permits. If a property is not found in compliance, we make it easy to rectify the situation.

Short Term Rental Monitoring

Short term rentals can cause problems for both property owners and managers. They can be the cause of bad ratings, higher maintenance costs, bothered residents, and worst of all fines. Short term rental monitoring software such as Property Guard can be an effective tool whether you accept, restrict, or outright ban short term rentals. Instead of spending hours looking through listings to find properties that may be non-compliant, short term rental monitoring software does that work for you. Property Guard gives you the edge by using data points taken from over 100,000 listings to easily identify violating hosts. Within 24 hours of a new listing that matches your criteria, you will be provided with a report. These reports will give you the details, knowledge, and confidence to confront the offender and fix the issue as fast as possible. In addition to the daily report, Property Guard will send you weekly reports that detail the traffic in the area. These details can be used to monitor other rentals in your vicinity, so you know what to look for or expect on your property.

Property Guard Makes Life Easier

Whether monitoring one property or a whole portfolio of properties, short term rental monitoring has never been so easy with Property Guard. It gives you the tools to effectively and efficiently monitor and control residents and tenants as it relates to the rules, regulations, and laws of the area. Property Guard was created by property managers for property managers, using their decades of experience. It is state of the art and the best short term rental monitoring solution available on the market. Property Guard makes it easy to do what matters most, managing your properties. It removes the countless wasted hours spent searching through online listings trying to find the offenders on your property. This means you can spend those hours on other aspects of property management, freeing you up to be more efficient, effective, and useful. Property Guard’s short term rental monitoring gives you powerful tools in your fight against illegal rentals occurring on your property. You can be sure that someone has your back and is working just as hard as you do. With Property Guard doing your short term rental monitoring it will make work and your life that much easier.

Best in The Industry

The creators of Property Guard are former property managers and as former property managers, they know how harmful an illegal short term rental can be for business. They do not underestimate the impact they can have on your hard work. Using their industry-leading experience they created one of the most powerful and effective tools for short term rental monitoring. Short term rentals can be hard to spot and manage on your own, but with the help of short term rental monitoring software, it can be a much easier task. Property Guard is proud to say we are the best in the industry when it comes to short term rental monitoring. Our many features combine to bring you the most effective property management tools available in one simple package. In addition to our software, our team of highly trained experts are always here to support you. Short term rental monitoring is an important part of being a competent property manager. We are confident that Property Guard will make managing your property or portfolio of properties as effortless as possible. Having someone on your side like Property Guard can be the difference between success and failure.

What Are the Legalities That We Need to Know?

Short term rental laws vary by state, city, and municipality. They are especially present in areas that see a large amount of tourism each year. These laws are not only meant to protect the area from an influx of travelers to residential neighborhoods, but also to protect the host, the guest, and most importantly the property owners. Read on to find out more about the laws in some of the more heavily restricted locations.

New York

New York is one of the biggest tourist areas in the world. Therefore, the laws in New York are designed to limit the spread of short term rentals and their impact on surrounding neighborhoods. In New York, it is illegal to rent out an entire apartment without the tenants’ present. Also, it is illegal to advertise a short term rental and you can only have up to two paying guests. There are also taxes associated with the rentals in the form of a hotel occupancy tax, sales tax, and a use tax. If a property is found in violation of these laws, it could cost the property owner $1,000 to $7,500 in fines.

Illegal Short Term Rentals and How to Avoid Them
Illegal Short Term Rentals and How to Avoid Them

San Francisco

San Francisco also sees a massive amount of tourism each year and laws have been enacted to help combat the spread of illegal rentals. In San Francisco, a party interested in doing short term rentals must register as a business. The hosts must be permanent residents and they can only be absent for up to 90 days out of the year. Another limitation is they cannot be operated out of income-restricted affordable housing. San Francisco also imposes a short term rental license fee of $250 in addition to the transient occupancy tax and business personal property tax. When a property is found in violation of these laws it will be assessed a $485 per day fine.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is another location that sees a spike in tourism each year. As a result, laws have been put into place that helps to curtail the impact on their communities. Los Angeles laws say that a host must obtain a license which costs $89. Additionally, it must be the primary residence of the host and cannot be rented out for more than 120 days in a year. The host must also pay a transient occupancy tax and if the property is found in violation, then a $500 per day fine will be placed on the property.

Illegal Short Term Rentals and How to Avoid Them
Illegal Short Term Rentals and How to Avoid Them

Washington, DC

As the capital of the US, you would expect that many people travel here each year to see the historic sights scattered about. Laws have been put into place here as well to help to limit the spread of short term rentals including obtaining a license for the rental. It also must be the primary residence of the host and they can only be absent for a total of 90 nights per year. In addition, they must pay a transient lodging tax. Properties found not adhering to these laws will be assessed $500 to $6,000 per violation.


The “Windy City” sees a fair number of tourists each year as well. Like other tourism hot spots, Chicago has put some laws into place to help to protect the city from short term rentals running rampant. In Chicago, an interested host must apply for and obtain a short term rental license that can cost up to $250. However, hosts with only one home share unit can register through the rental platform, whereas hosts with more than one home share unit have to obtain a license from the state. Although any vacation rentals must obtain a license, whether having one short term rental or more than one. A hotel accommodation tax also must be paid. Violators can be fined a whopping $1,500 to $3,000 per day.

Illegal Short Term Rentals and How to Avoid Them
Illegal Short Term Rentals and How to Avoid Them


Boston is another location in the US that sees a large amount of tourism and laws have been put into place that limit short term rentals. In Boston, interested parties must obtain a license that costs $25 to $200 and pay the same tax as a hotel. There is also a rule on no income-restricted units and the rental must be the primary residence of the host. However, there can be a secondary unit on the property of the primary residence that is used for short term rentals. Properties found not following the laws will be fined $100 to $300 per day.


Finally, there is Seattle another major tourism hot spot in the US. Seattle like many other places has put laws into effect that help to preserve the area and limit the spread of short term rentals. In Seattle, the rental platforms themselves must obtain a license to operate which costs $75. Hosts must register as a business and a short term rental and can only operate up to two units at a time. However, if two units are operated one of them must be the primary residence of the hosts. Additionally, the hosts must pay retail sales, lodging, business, and occupation taxes. Violations of these laws will result in fines of $500 to $1,000 per violation.

Illegal Short Term Rentals and How to Avoid Them


As you can see short term rental laws vary by state, city, and municipality quite considerably. Check with your local laws to see what is and is not permitted in your area. Violations of these laws can result in hefty fines for the host and the property owners. New laws are popping up all the time and it can be tricky to navigate through the legal network of laws designed to limit short term rentals. A short term rental monitoring solution such as Property Guard can give you the tools you need to stay on top of the laws and make sure that your tenants and residents are in compliance with the rules. Property Guard gives you the tools and the resources to make following the laws as easy as 1, 2, 3. Contact us to find out how Property Guard can help with your short term rental monitoring today!

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