Short term vacation rentals
Guide to Laws for Airbnbs and other Short Term Rentals in California
What is a “short term rental” or “vacation rental”?
“Short-term rental” (sometimes abbreviated as “STR”) or “short term lease” generally means renting a unit, like an apartment or house, for a relatively short period of time. The specific time period varies by city or other governing body (such as a Homeowners Association), but is usually defined as less than 30 or 31 days, but can be as long as 3 months or even 6 months.
Any rental for longer than the short-term rental period is a standard or long-term rental.
People often rent short term for vacations or business trips. The most popular sites for advertising short term rentals include AirBnB and VRBO/HomeAway. Many people often simply refer to short term rentals as “an Airbnb rental.”
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Can I list my place on AirBnB?
The legal situation for short term rentals is changing rapidly, and we intend to keep this page as up to date as possible.
Many cities restrict or even completely ban short-term rentals. Of those that allow them, most require you to register your unit and also to collect a “hotel tax” (Airbnb and VRBO have agreements with many cities to do this automatically). Some cities only allow STRs in “owner-occupied” properties or units, banning “whole-home” listings. Others allow STRs only in certain neighborhoods such as commercial zones and not residential zones.
Cities may also consider “hosting” a short-term rental as a business so you would likely need to get a “business license” with the city.
Here are some specific rules and regulations for various cities in California.
LA proper and surrounding cities:
- City of Los Angeles – Under new rules passed in December 2018, effective July 2019 you may only rent out your “primary” residence, not a second home or investment property. However, if your property is rent-controlled, you can’t do it at all. You are generally limited to a total of 120 days per year. But as of October 2019, there may be some more changes coming soon. See more at our Guide to Short Term Rental Laws in Los Angeles.
- Santa Monica – you may not rent out a full unit for less than 30 days; you may rent out a spare room, but you must collect “hotel tax” of 14% from guests.
- West Hollywood – The only short term renting allowed is a “Home Share,” which means you can rent out part of your home, but ONLY IF you OWN and RESIDE in the unit during your paying guests’ entire stay. To do so you must obtain a Home Sharing Business License from the city of West Hollywood. Other than this you may not rent out any unit, whether a full unit or just a spare room, for less than 31 days.
- Beverly Hills – Generally, single family homes must rent for a minimum of 6 months at a time; however, you may have a shorter term rental no more than twice per year, but you must collect a “hotel tax” from guests. For multi-unit buildings, NO short term rentals are allowed; all rentals must be 30 days or more.1See BH Municipal Code (Sections 4-5-102-B;10-3-302;10-3-401;10-3-501; 10-3-601; 10-3-701; 10-3-801; 10-3-901; 10-10-1001; 10-3-1101; 10-3-4302
- Unincorporated Los Angeles County (see Where is Unincorporated LA County)- For single family homes, you can rent to a max of 4 guests at a time; you must register with the county and collect “hotel tax” of 12%. For multi family homes, you should check with the Department of Regional Planning. See more here.
- Malibu – generally allowed, but you must get a short term rental permit from the city (and pay $294 fee) and collect “hotel tax” of 15%. Any person renting short term without a permit, or advertising such a rental, is subject to a fine of $1,000 per day, or twice the advertised short-term rental’s daily rental rate per day or violation, whichever is higher.2Ordinance No. 468; Malibu Municipal Code Chapter 17.55 The Malibu City Council also passed a stricter law in November 2020 (ordinance No. 472), which would mean that, for single family properties, you could only short-term rent your primary residence, and must be on the property during the rental; as well as additional restrictions for multifamily properties. However, this will not go into effect unless the California Coastal Commission approves it.
- Pasadena – you MUST live at the property for at least 9 months in a calendar year. If you own a property with multiple units (duplex, triplex, etc) and live in one of the units, you can short-term rent your unit plus only ONE additional unit (but you cannot short term rent “accessory dwelling units” permitted on or after Jan 1, 2017). You must get a short-term rental permit, get an inspection, and collect and pay “hotel taxes.” But you don’t need to also get a business license (unlike many other cities).3Section 17.50.296 of the Pasadena Municipal Code
- Burbank – Not strictly illegal, but the city council is looking to possibly ban it.
- Glendale – Not strictly illegal, and the city council doesn’t know what to do with it.
- Calabasas – No short-term or vacation rentals of any single-family home or any other property located in the City for less than 30 days.4Calabasas Municipal Code section 17.12.175 and section 17.11.010 It is also illegal to list a place on Airbnb or otherwise.5Calabasas municipal code 5.20.030 City-permitted and lawfully operated hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast inns are exempt from this ban.
- Santa Clarita – There is no current policy one way or another.
Other beach cities
- Long Beach – according to the Long Beach post: “Long Beach currently has a ban in place on short term rentals but lacks the resources to adequately enforce its own policies. The city’s municipal code allows for single rooms to be rented… but it requires the owner of the dwelling to live in the unit and limits the number of rented rooms to two per dwelling.” The city council is currently working on passing clearer regulations.
- Ventura – must register with the city and collect hotel tax of 10%; may be in residential or commercial areas: court recently affirmed legality of short term rentals in residential areas.
- Manhattan Beach – you may not rent out any unit in a “residential” area (“commercial” area is OK) for less than 30 days.
- Redondo Beach – short term rental are NOT allowed. Like, at all.
- Hermosa Beach – same as Redondo. No short term rentals.
- Newport Beach – allowed in certain areas but you must get a “short term lodging” permit and collect 10% hotel tax
- Laguna Beach – as of June 2019 short term rentals are prohibited in residential neighborhoods (but a few dozen residential rentals operating at the time the law passed are allowed to continue); but they are allowed in certain commercial zones.
- Huntington Beach – total ban on short term vacation rentals
- San Diego – as of September 2018 the city is not taking action against short term rentals, except that it is generally required to obtain a Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate and collect a tax of 10.5%. A new law passed by the city council in July 2018 was put on hold because voters submitted signatures for a referendum6That law was as follows: short term rentals would only be allowed in your primary residence (or another unit on your property, if you own a duplex and live in one of the units). And you would be limited to a maximum of 6 months per year of short term rentals. Also the annual fee to get a short term rental license would be up to $949.
- Palm Springs – restricts short term rentals to 32 times per year; must pay permit fee of $900/year; limited to one permit per person
- Joshua Tree/ Landers – as Joshua Tree and Landers are unincorporated areas in San Bernardino County, they are subject to the San Bernardino County Code, specifically section 84.28. Short term rentals are generally allowed, with a permit. The initial fee for the permit is $667, and it must be renewed every 2 years for $489. The Code Enforcement Officer will conduct an interior and exterior inspection of the site to determine the maximum occupancy and parking capacity. You must collect hotel tax of 7%.
- La Quinta – must get a short term rental permit, charge hotel tax of 10%, and follow other rules.
- San Francisco – You can rent short term a portion or your entire unit while you are also present for an unlimited number of nights per year. You can rent a portion or your entire unit while you are not present for a maximum of 90 total nights per year. But you must register your unit and pay $250 fee (can also be done directly through Airbnb). Violators are subject to fines of up to $1,000/day, and Airbnb is now removing non compliant listings.
- Berkeley – Short term rentals are allowed only in your primary residence, but not in a rent controlled unit, and not in certain “accessory dwelling units.” See city of Berkeley website for more.
- Oakland – No clear laws on short term rentals, so it is probably not illegal.
- Sausalito – Complete ban on short term rentals
- South Lake Tahoe – In the city of South Lake Tahoe, CA, “Vacation Home Rentals” as of December 2018 are now completely banned outside the “tourist core”. Voters approved the ban in the November 2018 election. For those within the tourist core (about 400 properties): you must get a permit; must not allow guests to park on the street (only on the property). Violations may result in minimum $1,000 fine.
- Santa Barbara – Only allowed where hotels are allowed, and only if you get proper permits.
- San Luis Obispo – it is prohibited to rent an entire property in which the owner does not live. You can rent out rooms in your primary residence under a program the city calls a “Homestay.” But no more than 4 adults at a time, and no more than 30 consecutive days. You must get a permit and a business license (about $900 total fees).
Are there any additional restrictions for homeowners?
If you own a property within a Homeowners Association (HOA) or Co-op, you are subject to the HOA or Co-op rules as well, which often restrict short term rentals. HOA rules are often more restrictive than city rules, for example, sometimes banning rentals of less than 90 days. If the city laws conflict with HOA rules, in general, the more restrictive rules apply. So, if the city says no rentals of less than 30 days, and the HOA says no rentals of less than 90 days, then the 90 day rule applies.
Check with your HOA Board for rules, often called the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions).
I rent an apartment or house. Can I legally put it on AirBnB?
Probably not, but check your lease. In addition to the above laws and rules, if you are renting a unit, your lease most likely has a restriction on any and all “subletting.” Some leases say you can sublet if you get approval from your landlord (but they almost definitely will not allow you to AirBnB the place). However, if by chance your lease says nothing about subletting or “assignment” of the unit, and if it wouldn’t violate any of the above laws, then you probably do have the legal right to AirBnB it.
Is it illegal to put a camera inside an AirBnB?
In California, it is generally illegal to record guests inside an AirBnB without their consent. But recording anything on the exterior of a house is generally OK. See more at our Guide to Privacy Rights.
Find options for getting legal help in California.
|↑1||See BH Municipal Code (Sections 4-5-102-B;10-3-302;10-3-401;10-3-501; 10-3-601; 10-3-701; 10-3-801; 10-3-901; 10-10-1001; 10-3-1101; 10-3-4302|
|↑2||Ordinance No. 468; Malibu Municipal Code Chapter 17.55|
|↑3||Section 17.50.296 of the Pasadena Municipal Code|
|↑4||Calabasas Municipal Code section 17.12.175 and section 17.11.010|
|↑5||Calabasas municipal code 5.20.030|
|↑6||That law was as follows: short term rentals would only be allowed in your primary residence (or another unit on your property, if you own a duplex and live in one of the units). And you would be limited to a maximum of 6 months per year of short term rentals. Also the annual fee to get a short term rental license would be up to $949.|