Can I Rent That Property I Purchased?

Vacation Rentals. We know they are a popular choice among travelers, or sites like VRBO, HomeAway and AirBnB would not exist.

The Florida Keys are no exception. Many an owner has offered their condo or home for vacation rentals to earn income that can offset the cost of owning and maintaining a home in the Keys. 

But before you start welcoming guests into your home away from home, it's important to know if it is legal to do so. Almost every condo association and single family home owner associations have rules and regulations regarding vacation rentals. In some cases, even in when the association allows rentals, Monroe County may not.

Almost all single family home neighborhoods have restrictions in place that do not allow rentals under 28 days. That's straight forward enough. Some condos have restrictions allow rentals of one month or longer, while some others allow weekly rentals. 

But lately, Monroe County has been taking aim at condo associations, and hitting owners that do short term rentals that the county deems "illegal" with hefty fines.

The county requires two things for each vacation rental: an annual permit and a property manager licensed with Monroe County to manage the rental. Learn more about the two requirements by clicking here. Not having both a permit and a licensed manager will result in a violation. Unless you file for and get an exemption.

There are exceptions that could get you an exemption. A vacation rental permit is not required for the following:  (1) A vacation rental of a dwelling unit located within a controlled access, gated community with a homeowner's or property owner's association that expressly regulates or manages vacation rental uses; or  (2) A vacation rental of a dwelling unit within a multifamily building located within a multifamily district, which has 24 hour on-site management or 24 hour on-site supervision. To meet these on-site management or supervision requirements, a designated individual must be physically located within the building or within 300 feet of the subject building and must be available at all times to respond to tenants' and neighbors' complaints.  You can learn more about the exceptions by clicking here.

To make matters more complicated, incorporated cities within the Monroe County, such as Islamorada and Marathon, have their own set of rules and regulations regarding rentals that must also be adhered to in addition to Monroe County rules. 

For instance, there are condos in the Islamorada area that, according to their condo docs, allow short term vacation rentals. However, the Village of Islamorada has a financial threshold that a property must pass before it would even be considered for a vacation rental permit, much less approved. Even though the condo docs allow rentals, units that aren't assessed high enough for tax purposes do not qualify for a permit to do anything less than 28 days.

Once you've done the background research to see if a property qualifies, you will still need to apply for the proper licenses (not permits) from Monroe County and the State of Florida to remit the collected sales tax each month.  It is required to collect and remit 12.5% sales tax on all rentals under 6 months.  The State of Florida gets 7.5% and Monroe County takes 5%.

There are still plenty of opportunities to own a vacation rental in Monroe County, just as long as you do your research and follow the proper guidelines. When in doubt, check with your real estate professional or speak directly to officials at Monroe County.