The Evolving Landscape of Short-Term Rental Regulations in the U.S.

Monthly Vacationer The evolving landscape of short-term rental regulations in the us

Short-term rental regulations in the United States are complex and ever-evolving, with rules varying significantly from state to state, city to city, and even neighborhood to neighborhood. Understanding these regulations is crucial for property managers and homeowners to avoid legal complications, fines, and penalties. Notably, this stringent regulatory environment is driving more and more rental owners toward mid-term rentals and snowbird stays, as these are becoming more profitable and less legally fraught alternatives than traditional short-term rentals. This shift underscores the importance of property managers and owners remaining vigilant and informed about the changing regulations affecting the rental market.

Notably, this stringent regulatory environment is driving more and more rental owners toward mid-term rentals and snowbird stays, as these are becoming more profitable and less legally fraught alternatives than traditional short-term rentals.

The Growing Backlash and Legal Battles

The most common restriction across the U.S. is a cap on short-term rentals in a specific area, particularly in large cities and major tourist destinations, primarily to prevent housing shortages for permanent residents. For instance, Honolulu, HI, recently imposed a limit, allowing only 1,715 rentals at any time. Conversely, some cities have taken more drastic measures by banning short-term rentals, fueled by concerns over housing shortages, the disruption of quiet neighborhoods, competition with hotels, and impacts on tax revenues.

New York - 30 Days Stay Minimum

In New York City, hosts can’t rent their property for less than 30 days unless they stay home and limit guests to two people. Despite the regulations, there were approximately 10,800 illegal Airbnb listings as of March 2023. Following a legal challenge from Airbnb, a new law was implemented on September 5, 2023, after the dismissal of the lawsuit.

California - 90 Days(3-Month) Minimum

San Francisco allows short-term rentals only if the host has resided in the dwelling for at least 275 days of the year and limits the rental period to no more than 90 days annually. Hosts must also secure a business registration and a short-term rental certificate, with violators facing significant fines.

Santa Monica's strict regulations have effectively eliminated 80% of Airbnb listings, leaving only 351 registered short-term rental properties as of 2019. 


Hawaii's Ordinance 22-7, passed in October 2022, redefined "short-term" (anything less than 30 days), making rentals from 30 to 89 days outside designated resort zones illegal and subject to fines. A few grandfathered properties were exempt from the rule.

Other City Regulations

Cities like Dallas, Atlanta, and Chattanooga, among others, have taken various stances, from outright bans to temporary pauses on new applications for short-term rentals, reflecting a growing national backlash, leading to an increasingly fragmented regulatory environment, challenging property managers and owners to stay informed and compliant.

Recent Developments in 2023

Rhode Island's Regulatory Considerations

On September 20, 2023, Rhode Island began contemplating the surge of short-term rentals within the state, aiming to understand and possibly integrate successful restrictions from other cities. By December 6, discussions had escalated to a State House hearing, where a Tiverton official proposed regulating short-term rentals via zoning codes, including a particular use permit requirement and annual inspections. Forming a 15-member panel to delve deeper into these issues signifies the state's commitment to thorough regulatory evaluation, with a report due to the state legislature by March 15.

Phoenix, Arizona's Permitting Shift

The Phoenix City Council enacted a significant amendment to its Short-Term Rental Ordinance, which altered the existing ordinance from a registration requirement to a permitting requirement. This change, effective November 6, 2023, aims to tighten control and oversight of short-term rentals within the city.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's New Rental Registry

Pittsburgh has systematically regulated short- and long-term rentals under a new rental registry bill. Property owners are now required to secure a permit and pass an inspection to operate rental properties, marking a significant move towards standardized rental oversight.

Updates for 2024

Austin, Texas's STR Concerns

In January 2024, Austin's city commissioners heard from residents frustrated by disturbances from short-term rentals. The revelation of over 13,000 unlicensed STRs, leading to substantial uncollected Hotel Occupancy Tax revenues—estimated at over $20 million annually—prompted the city council to prioritize STR regulations for the year. The community's call for action underscores the tension between residents and rental businesses.

Florida's Legislative Action on STRs

Florida has taken decisive steps with the passage of SB 280, aiming to control the maximum occupancy of vacation rentals. The new legislation sets occupancy limits and introduces a registration fee for property owners, with non-compliance potentially leading to a $500 fine. The bill gives the property owner up to 15 days to resolve the occupancy violations. However, the enforcement mechanism has drawn criticism due to the time lag between the guest's occupancy and the renter's discovery of the issue.


The shifting regulatory landscape for short-term rentals across the U.S. reflects a growing recognition of the need to balance the interests of homeowners, residents, tourists, and local governments. With diverse approaches being implemented—from permitting requirements to occupancy limits and zoning changes—staying informed and compliant is more crucial than ever for property managers and owners. The developments in Rhode Island, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Austin, and Florida exemplify the ongoing efforts to address the complex challenges posed by the short-term rental market, signaling a trend toward greater regulation and oversight in the years to come.

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