Legal Issues with Airbnb Vacation Rentals

Legal Issues with Airbnb Vacation Rentals

Airbnb and Florida have a strained relationship. Cities such as Miami, Palm Beach, and Orlando have been in a tug-of-war with the online “home-sharing” company and the homeowners who list their properties as vacation rentals using Airbnb’s service.

For some, Airbnb and other online shor-term rental listing pages provide a helpful service that gives homeowners an opportunity to supplement their income. For others, Airbnb introduces legal, economic, and safety risks to local communities. Regardless of your position on the value of Airbnb, it is important to understand the legal issues regarding its services as a landlord or as a tenant.

Landlord-Tenant Law

Landlords have special legal responsibilities when it comes to their tenants. The specific details of a landlord’s responsibilities derive from their rental agreement with renters. However, the law also imposes certain terms called “implied covenants.”

A rental property is subject to the following implied covenants:

  • Quiet Enjoyment: The tenant has a right to exclusively occupy and use the rental property without substantial interference from others.
  • Habitability: The landlord promises to maintain the property in a condition that allows the tenant to live there during the lease term. The landlord thus has a duty to repair defects that substantially interfere with the tenant’s ability to live at the property.

When either party breaches the express terms of the rental agreement, the non-breaching party may sue them for legal relief. Furthermore, when a landlord breaches the implied covenants of quiet enjoyment or habitability, the tenant can withhold rent until the landlord cures the issue, or can sue the landlord “constructive eviction.”

Florida Law Governing Vacation Rentals

While general landlord-tenant law governs the rights and responsibilities of the parties to a residential lease arrangement, Florida statutory law provides specific regulations for vacation rentals. Property owners who use Airbnb’s services to list their vacation rentals must obtain a business perment from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

Under Florida Statutes § 509.242, “vacation rental” is defined as “any unit or group of units in a condominium or cooperative or any individually or collectively owned single-family, two-family, three-family, or four-family house or dwelling unit that is also a transient public lodging establishment but that is not a time share project.”

Florida Statutes § 509.013 defines “transient public lodging establishment” as “any unit, group of units, dwelling, building, or group of buildings within a single complex of buildings which is rented to guests more than three times in a calendar year for periods of less than 30 days or 1 calendar month, whichever is less, or which is advertised or held out the public as a place regularly rented to guests.”

Some homeowners on Airbnb list a part of their own residence, rather than the entire unit, for short-term rentals on Airbnb. For example, some Airbnb listings are for guest rooms at the landlord’s primary residence. Because these homeowners still live on the property during the renter’s stay, such listings may not qualify as a vacation rental or transient public lodging establishment and, therefore, not subject to the DBPR’s regulations.

Local Ordinances Regarding Airbnb Rentals

In addition to state laws affecting Airbnb rentals, cities have enacted local ordinances regulating the operation and rental of Airbnb properties. Depending on the locality, Airbnb homeowners may be subject to certain certification and licensing laws.

For example, Orlando requires owner-occupied vacation rentals to register with the city. You can register your property online at the City of Orlando Home Sharing Registration website. Also, Miami requires online vacation rental platforms to list their business license information on their websites. Miami officials began imposing this requirement after learning that some Airbnb listings were illegally located in improper zoning districts.

Cities also have local construction and housing standards to ensure the habitability of residential units. Homeowners should consult with an attorney about compliance issues with their Airbnb listing. For example, if a homeowner converted their garage into a vacation rental space, there is a risk that they are violating local safety standards.

Contact The Virga Law Firm, P.A. for More Information

If you are homeowner or renter with concerns about your rights and responsibilities regarding a vacation rental, you should discuss your case with an experienced attorney from The Virga Law Firm, P.A. We have years of experience dealing with various legal disputes, including landlord-tenant issues.

Call us at (800) 822-5170 or contact us online today to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled lawyers about your case.