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Allentown Short Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Allentown, Pennsylvania

What are short term rental (Airbnb, VRBO) regulations in Allentown, Pennsylvania?

These rules are often found in a zoning code, planning code, Allentown ordinances, or real estate Pennsylvania forums like Bigger Pockets or Reddit.

To start a short term rental business in Allentown, hosts must obtain a permit, pay a yearly fee, and follow regulations related to safety, health, liability insurance, and providing guest information to the city [1].

Allentown requires hosts to obtain a residential rental license for each rental unit, with a $75 annual fee due by December 31 each year [4]. Licenses can be revoked for issues like not paying utilities, zoning violations, or disorderly conduct complaints [5].

Based on Allentown's regulations, hosts would need to have:

  • Short term rental permit
  • Residential rental license
  • Liability insurance
  • Safety inspection records
  • Guest registration records

Allentown would require hosts to pay any applicable state and local taxes on short term rental income. This may include hotel, sales, and occupancy taxes.

Starting a Short Term Rental Business in Allentown

Allentown attracts visitors year-round for its history, arts, cultural events, and outdoor recreation. The peak rental season is summer when guests enjoy music festivals, minor league baseball, and water parks. Holiday times and the fall foliage season also draw tourists.To launch a profitable short term rental business in Allentown:

  • Research the market potential on sites like AirDNA which estimate occupancy rates around 60% in Allentown, a bit below the national average. Average daily rates are approximately $100[1].
  • Use tools like Mashvisor to analyze neighborhoods and find profitable investment properties suited for vacation rentals. Focus on areas near downtown event venues.
  • Consult the city planning and zoning department to identify eligible rental properties located in mixed residential areas. Single family homes tend to work better than apartments[2].
  • Create attractive listings with abundant photos showcasing any amenities like a pool, hot tub, or outdoor patio space. Emphasize convenient locations.
  • Develop a marketing plan to promote your listing across multiple platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking.com.
  • Consider hiring a property management company to handle cleaning, maintenance and guest communication to save time.

With sound preparation and research, Allentown, PA presents a viable market to launch a short term rental business. The key is finding properties in desirable locations that meet city requirements. Maintaining great reviews and high occupancy will determine success.

Short Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Allentown

Allentown has specific regulations that short term rental hosts must follow to legally operate. The first requirement is obtaining an annual permit that costs $75 per rental unit[1][3]. Hosts must complete a permit application and renewal process each year through the city's Department of Community Development.

In addition, the city inspects each short term rental unit at least once every 5 years to check it meets safety and health regulations[1]. An onsite inspection is scheduled after submitting the permit application. Inspectors look for functioning smoke detectors, fire exits, electrical safety, cleanliness, and more.

Upon passing inspection, the Department of Community Development issues a residential rental license for that unit. This allows legal short term rental use. The license must be clearly displayed inside the rental property[1].

Additional licensing obligations involve carrying liability insurance that covers paying guests. And hosts must provide guest names, home addresses, and rental dates to the city for each booking[4].

Staying current on licensing ensures short term rental operators remain in compliance. The annual permit, inspection process, display of the license, liability coverage, and guest reporting together enable legal short term rental hosting in Allentown. Failing to comply risks fines or even eviction of guests.

Required Documents for Allentown Short Term Rentals

Based on Allentown's regulations, hosts would need to have:

  • Short term rental permit
  • Residential rental license
  • Liability insurance
  • Safety inspection records
  • Guest registration records

Allentown Short Term Rental Taxes

The sources do not provide clear details on specific taxes applied to short term rental hosts in Allentown. However, hosts likely need to pay several common lodging taxes[1][5]:

State Sales Tax:
Pennsylvania charges a 6% sales tax on short term rentals under 30 days. Hosts must register for a sales tax license to collect and remit this tax.

Hotel Occupancy Tax:
A 6% hotel tax also applies to short term rental bookings across Pennsylvania. This covers lodging for transients under 30 days. Allentown likely charges this occupancy tax.

Local Tax:
Some Pennsylvania counties add a 1-2% local hotel tax. Lehigh County containing Allentown may have an additional local tax on short term rental bookings that hosts must pay.

Income Tax:
Hosts report short term rental income on their Pennsylvania personal tax return, paying income tax at the state and federal levels. Use Schedule C to report profits.

In summary, Allentown short term rental hosts must navigate various taxes, including sales, hotel occupancy, potential local taxes, and income tax on profits. Tracking expenses carefully is key to lower tax obligations. Professional tax help may aid compliance. Staying current on taxes ensures hosts avoid interest and penalties.

Pennsylvania Wide Short Term Rental Rules

While Pennsylvania does not have statewide laws specifically regulating short term rentals, there are some relevant regulations hosts should understand[1][2]:

Zoning: Local zoning codes determine if short term rentals are permitted. Residential zones often prohibit commercial activity like rentals under 30 days. Check local zoning before listing a property.

Taxes: The state charges a 6% sales tax and 6% hotel tax on short term rental bookings. There may also be local taxes. Hosts must collect and remit these taxes.

Safety: Statewide building codes require smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, safe electrical and escapes. Short term rentals must comply, with inspections in some areas.

Discrimination: Federal and state fair housing laws apply. Hosts cannot discriminate against guests based on race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, etc.

Insurance: Hosts should carry liability coverage in case guests are injured on a property. Umbrella insurance also protects against lawsuits.

In addition to local rules, Pennsylvania short term rental hosts must follow zoning permissions, collect all applicable taxes, meet safety codes, avoid discrimination, and carry proper insurance coverage. Checking state and local laws before listing helps hosts remain compliant. Professional advice can clarify unique situations.

Does Allentown Strictly Enforce STR Rules?

Yes, Allentown does appear to strictly enforce regulations based on sources. The city can revoke rental licenses and permits for violations [5], indicating they monitor and penalize non-compliance. Reddit users also say enforcement seems strict compared to other cities.

How to Start a Short Term Rental Business in Allentown?

To start a short term rental business in Allentown:

  1. Research all local short term rental regulations
  2. Obtain necessary permits and licenses
  3. Set up liability insurance
  4. Pass any required safety inspections
  5. Register guest details with the city
  6. Pay required taxes
  7. List and market your rental

Who to Contact in Allentown About Short Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

For questions on short term rental rules and zoning in Allentown, contact:Department of Community Development
Phone: 610-437-7630
Email: comdev@allentownpa.gov

What Do Airbnb Hosts in Allentown on Reddit and Bigger Pockets Think About Local Regulations?

Reddit users say Allentown takes enforcement more seriously than other cities, with significant penalties possible for violations. Bigger Pockets users report frustration dealing with regulatory hurdles in Allentown. Overall the tone indicates hosts face stricter oversight and restrictions compared to other areas.

Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.