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Amarillo Short Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Amarillo, Texas

Starting a Short Term Rental Business in Amarillo

Amarillo, located in the heart of the Texas Panhandle, is an increasingly popular destination for travelers looking to experience the unique blend of Western heritage, outdoor recreation, and cultural attractions the city has to offer. From the iconic Route 66 and Cadillac Ranch to the stunning natural beauty of Palo Duro Canyon and the quirky charm of the Big Texan Steak Ranch, Amarillo has something for everyone.

For property owners in Amarillo, the growing tourism industry presents an attractive opportunity to start a short-term rental business using platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. By renting out a spare room, guest house, or entire home to travelers on a nightly or weekly basis, hosts can generate significant income and tap into the booming demand for alternative accommodations.

However, before jumping into the short-term rental market, it's crucial for prospective hosts to understand and comply with the various regulations that govern vacation rentals in Amarillo. Like many cities across the country, Amarillo has put in place specific rules and requirements around short-term rentals to ensure they operate safely, fairly, and in harmony with local neighborhoods.

At a high level, Amarillo's short-term rental regulations cover three main areas:

  • Permitting and registration: All short-term rentals in the city must obtain a permit from the Planning Department before they can begin operating. This involves submitting an application, paying a fee, and passing a property inspection.
  • Tax collection: Short-term rentals are subject to the same occupancy taxes as hotels and other traditional lodging providers. Hosts are responsible for collecting these taxes from guests and remitting them to the city on a monthly basis.
  • Property standards and neighborhood impact: The city has established various rules around things like occupancy limits, parking requirements, noise levels, and safety features to minimize the impact of short-term rentals on surrounding properties and ensure a positive experience for guests.

By familiarizing themselves with these regulations and taking steps to comply, hosts can set their short-term rental business up for long-term success in Amarillo. The following sections will dive into each of these areas in more detail.

Short Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Amarillo

The foundation of Amarillo's short-term rental regulations is the requirement that all properties engaging in short-term renting obtain a permit from the city before beginning operations. This permit process is designed to ensure that vacation rentals meet basic safety and quality standards and that the city has a way to track and monitor the industry.

Amarillo defines a short-term rental as "any dwelling or portion thereof that is available for use or is used for accommodations or lodging for a period of less than 30 consecutive days by guests paying a fee or other compensation." This broad definition encompasses a wide range of property types, from a spare bedroom rented out on occasion to a full-time vacation home listed on multiple platforms.

The permitting process begins with submitting an application to the city's Planning Department. The application requires detailed information about the property and its intended use as a short-term rental, including:

  • Property address and owner contact information
  • Type of property (single-family, multi-family, etc.)
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Maximum occupancy based on zoning district
  • Parking plan showing available off-street spaces
  • Floor plans with room dimensions and layouts
  • Proof of ownership (deed, title, etc.)
  • Liability insurance certificate with at least $500,000 in coverage

In addition to the application form and supporting documents, prospective hosts must also pay a permit fee. As of 2023, the fee for a new short-term rental permit in Amarillo is $200, with an annual renewal fee of $100.

Once an application is submitted, the Planning Department will review it for completeness and schedule an inspection of the property. This inspection is conducted by the city's Building Safety Department and focuses on ensuring the property meets all relevant building, fire, and health codes.

Some of the key things inspectors look for include:

  • Working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in all sleeping areas
  • Properly maintained and accessible fire extinguishers
  • Adequate emergency lighting and exit signage
  • Secure railings on decks, balconies, and stairways
  • Proper ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • Sanitary and well-maintained kitchen and bathroom facilities
  • Sufficient electrical outlets and no exposed wiring
  • Structurally sound foundation, walls, and roof

If the property passes inspection and all other application requirements are met, the city will issue a short-term rental permit valid for one year from the date of issuance. The host must then include their permit number on all online listings and advertisements for the property to demonstrate compliance.

It's important to note that obtaining a short-term rental permit in Amarillo does not override any lease agreements, HOA bylaws, or other private restrictions that may prohibit or limit vacation rentals in a particular property. Hosts are responsible for ensuring they have the legal right to operate a short-term rental in their specific circumstances.

Required Documents for Amarillo Short Term Rentals

As mentioned in the previous section, obtaining a short-term rental permit in Amarillo involves submitting various documents to the city's Planning Department along with the application form. These documents help verify ownership, ensure proper insurance coverage, and provide important details about the property's layout and amenities.

The specific documents required for a short-term rental permit in Amarillo include:

  • Proof of Ownership: Applicants must provide evidence that they have the legal right to rent out the property on a short-term basis. This typically means submitting a copy of the property deed, title report, or other official ownership record. If the property is owned by an LLC or other business entity, additional documentation may be required to verify the applicant's authority to act on behalf of the company.
  • Liability Insurance Certificate: Short-term rental operators in Amarillo are required to maintain at least $500,000 in liability insurance coverage for their property. This insurance helps protect both the host and the city in the event of accidents, injuries, or property damage related to the rental. Applicants must submit a copy of their insurance certificate showing the policy number, coverage limits, and effective dates.
  • Floor Plans: Detailed floor plans of the rental property are required to verify the number and location of bedrooms, bathrooms, and other living spaces. These plans should be drawn to scale and clearly label all rooms with their dimensions and intended use (e.g. "Bedroom 1 - 12' x 14'"). If the property has multiple levels, separate floor plans should be provided for each floor.
  • Parking Plan: Amarillo's short-term rental regulations require properties to have a certain number of off-street parking spaces based on the number of bedrooms. Applicants must submit a parking plan showing the location and dimensions of all available parking spaces on the property, as well as any relevant access or usage restrictions. The plan should also note the surface material of the parking area (concrete, gravel, etc.).
  • Property Management Agreement (if applicable): If the short-term rental will be managed by a third-party property management company, a copy of the management agreement must be provided to the city. This agreement should spell out the responsibilities of the manager, including things like booking, cleaning, maintenance, and guest communication. It should also include 24/7 contact information for the manager in case of emergencies.

In addition to these required documents, the city may request additional information or materials as needed to process a short-term rental permit application. This could include things like photos of the property, guest rental agreements, or proof of zoning compliance.

It's important for applicants to submit all required documents in a timely and organized manner to avoid delays in the permitting process. The city's Planning Department staff are available to answer questions and provide guidance on the specific documentation requirements for each property.

Once issued, a short-term rental permit must be prominently displayed inside the rental unit along with other required postings like emergency contact information and occupancy limits. Hosts must also include their permit number on all online listings and advertisements to demonstrate compliance with the city's regulations.

By carefully compiling and submitting the necessary documents, short-term rental operators in Amarillo can ensure a smooth and successful permitting process and lay the groundwork for a thriving vacation rental business.

Amarillo Short Term Rental Taxes

In addition to obtaining a permit and meeting various property standards, short-term rental operators in Amarillo are also responsible for collecting and remitting certain taxes on their rental income. These taxes help fund local services and infrastructure, and ensure that vacation rentals are contributing to the city's economy on par with traditional lodging providers.

The two main taxes that apply to short-term rentals in Amarillo are:

  • Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT): The City of Amarillo levies a 7% occupancy tax on all short-term rental reservations. This tax is calculated based on the total amount paid by guests for their stay, including any cleaning fees or other mandatory charges. The HOT is in addition to the state's 6% hotel occupancy tax, which applies to all lodging properties in Texas.
  • Amarillo-Potter Events Venue District Tax: In addition to the city's HOT, short-term rentals in Amarillo are also subject to a 2% occupancy tax collected by the Amarillo-Potter Events Venue District. This special-purpose district was created to fund the construction and operation of event facilities like the Amarillo Civic Center Complex. The venue district tax applies to all lodging properties within its boundaries, including hotels, motels, and vacation rentals.

Together, these two taxes add up to a total occupancy tax rate of 15% for short-term rentals in Amarillo (7% city HOT + 6% state HOT + 2% venue district tax). It's important for hosts to factor this additional cost into their pricing and budgeting decisions.

As the operator of a short-term rental, it is your responsibility to collect these taxes from your guests as part of the reservation total. Most booking platforms like Airbnb and VRBO have tools to help automate this process, but it's still important to understand your obligations as a host.

Once collected, the occupancy taxes must be remitted to the city on a monthly basis using a special HOT tax return form. This form, along with payment for the taxes collected, is due to the city by the 20th day of the month following the month in which the taxes were collected.

For example, if you collected $1,000 in short-term rental revenue during the month of June, you would owe $150 in occupancy taxes ($1,000 x 15%). You would need to file your June HOT tax return and remit the $150 payment to the city by July 20th.

To streamline the tax collection and remittance process, the City of Amarillo has partnered with a third-party company called Localgov. Localgov provides an online portal where short-term rental hosts can register their properties, file monthly tax returns, and pay their occupancy taxes electronically.

Using Localgov is mandatory for all vacation rental operators in Amarillo. Hosts must create an account on the Localgov platform and enter their property information, including their city-issued permit number, within 30 days of receiving their permit.

Failure to collect and remit occupancy taxes in a timely manner can result in penalties, interest charges, and other enforcement actions by the city. Hosts who are found to be in violation of the tax requirements may also face fines, suspension of their rental permit, or even criminal charges in extreme cases.

By understanding and complying with Amarillo's short-term rental tax requirements, hosts can avoid these negative consequences and ensure they are operating on a level playing field with other lodging providers in the city. The occupancy taxes collected from vacation rentals help support important public services and amenities that benefit both residents and visitors alike.

Amarillo-wide Short Term Rental Rules

Beyond the permitting and tax requirements, the City of Amarillo has also established a set of general rules and regulations that apply to all short-term rental properties operating within its jurisdiction. These rules are designed to minimize the potential negative impacts of vacation rentals on surrounding neighborhoods and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for guests.

Some of the key city-wide short-term rental rules in Amarillo include:

  • Occupancy Limits: To prevent overcrowding and maintain neighborhood character, Amarillo places limits on the number of guests allowed in a short-term rental based on the property's zoning district and number of bedrooms. In residential zones, occupancy is capped at 2 guests per bedroom plus 2 additional guests. For example, a 2-bedroom house in a residential area could accommodate up to 6 guests (2 per bedroom + 2 extra). In non-residential zones, occupancy limits are higher but still apply.
  • Parking Requirements: Short-term rentals must provide a certain number of off-street parking spaces for guests based on the number of bedrooms in the unit. The city requires at least one space per bedroom, with a minimum of two spaces required regardless of bedroom count. Parking on lawns, landscaped areas, or public streets is not allowed. Hosts must submit a parking plan as part of their permit application showing the location and dimensions of the required spaces.
  • Noise and Nuisance Standards: To preserve the peace and quiet of residential neighborhoods, short-term rental guests are required to abide by the city's noise ordinance and other nuisance regulations. This means no loud parties, excessive traffic, or other disruptive behaviors that could interfere with neighbors' quality of life. Hosts are responsible for ensuring their guests are aware of and follow these rules, and can face penalties if repeated violations occur.
  • Safety Requirements: All short-term rentals in Amarillo must meet certain minimum safety standards to protect guests and first responders. This includes having working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in all sleeping areas, as well as properly maintained fire extinguishers on each floor. Emergency contact information for the host or property manager must also be prominently posted inside the unit, along with evacuation routes and other safety instructions.
  • Signage and Advertising Restrictions: To maintain the residential character of neighborhoods, Amarillo prohibits short-term rental hosts from installing any commercial signage or advertising on their property. This includes things like yard signs, banners, or flashing lights that would draw attention to the rental unit. The only signage allowed is a small placard or window sticker displaying the city-issued permit number, which must be visible from the street.
  • Trash and Recycling: Short-term rental hosts are responsible for providing adequate trash and recycling receptacles for their guests and ensuring that all waste is properly disposed of in accordance with the city's collection schedule. Overflowing bins or loose trash left outside the unit can attract pests and create unsanitary conditions, so hosts must be diligent about managing waste.
  • Compliance with Other Laws: In addition to the specific short-term rental rules, hosts in Amarillo must also comply with all other applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. This includes things like building codes, health and safety standards, fair housing laws, and tax requirements. Hosts are responsible for educating themselves on these various legal obligations and ensuring their property is in full compliance.

Enforcing these city-wide short-term rental rules falls to the Amarillo Building Safety Department and Code Enforcement Division. These departments investigate complaints and conduct periodic inspections of permitted properties to ensure they are meeting all requirements.

If a violation is found, the city will typically issue a warning or notice of violation to the host, along with a deadline to correct the issue. Failure to comply can result in fines, legal action, or revocation of the short-term rental permit.

Hosts who have questions about the city's rules or need guidance on how to comply can contact the Building Safety Department for assistance. The department offers pre-application consultations and other resources to help hosts understand their obligations and operate their rentals in a safe and responsible manner.

By familiarizing themselves with Amarillo's city-wide short-term rental rules and taking steps to comply, hosts can avoid potential conflicts with neighbors, ensure a positive experience for their guests, and contribute to the overall well-being of the community. While the regulations may seem daunting at first, they are designed to create a level playing field and protect the interests of all stakeholders in the short-term rental industry.

Does Amarillo Strictly Enforce STR Rules? Is Amarillo Airbnb Friendly?

Based on discussions among local hosts on forums like Bigger Pockets and Reddit, Amarillo seems to be relatively friendly to short-term rentals compared to some other major cities1517.

While the city does have a permitting process and occupancy tax requirements in place, many hosts report being able to operate successfully once they are properly registered.

The general consensus is that Amarillo's short-term rental rules are reasonable and not overly burdensome for hosts who make an effort to comply. Enforcement appears to be largely complaint-based, meaning the city primarily responds to issues brought to their attention by neighbors or guests rather than proactively monitoring properties.

Several hosts on the Bigger Pockets forums noted that Amarillo is "pretty hands off as far as enforcement goes" and that "as long as you're registered and collecting the hotel tax they leave you alone."15 Others mentioned that the permitting process was "pretty straightforward" once they gathered all the necessary documentation17.

That said, Amarillo is actively working to refine its short-term rental regulations and step up enforcement efforts. In 2022, the city council considered updates to the zoning code that would have placed additional restrictions on vacation rentals, such as caps on the number of permits issued in certain neighborhoods4. While those changes were ultimately postponed, it's clear the city is taking steps to more closely monitor the industry.

Overall, Amarillo can be considered a relatively Airbnb-friendly market for hosts who are willing to play by the rules. The demand for short-term rentals in the city is strong, particularly during peak summer and fall travel seasons. By properly registering their properties, collecting occupancy taxes, and being responsive to any neighbor concerns, local hosts can operate successful and profitable vacation rentals.

How to Start a Short Term Rental Business in Amarillo

If you're interested in starting a short-term rental business in Amarillo, here are the key steps you'll need to follow:

  • Research zoning requirements and permit eligibility for your property
  • Prepare your property for guests with furniture, amenities, and safety equipment
  • Apply for a short-term rental permit with the City of Amarillo Development Services Department
  • Register for a Hotel Occupancy Tax permit and set up an account with Localgov to file monthly tax returns
  • Obtain required liability insurance coverage for your property
  • Create listings on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, being sure to include your city permit number
  • Establish house rules, booking and cancellation policies, and guest communication procedures
  • Implement cleaning and maintenance protocols to ensure your property is well-cared for
  • Consider hiring a local property manager to assist with day-to-day operations and guest services
  • Stay up to date on any changes to Amarillo's short-term rental regulations and best practices in the industry

By following these steps and adhering to the city's rules, you can get your Amarillo short-term rental business up and running smoothly. It's a competitive market, but one with plenty of opportunity for hosts who deliver great guest experiences and responsibly manage their properties.

Who to Contact in Amarillo about Short Term Rental Regulations and Zoning

If you have questions about Amarillo's short-term rental regulations, permitting process, or zoning restrictions, here are the key city contacts to get in touch with:

City of Amarillo Planning Department
808 S Buchanan St, Amarillo, TX 79101
Phone: (806) 378-3041

City of Amarillo Building Safety Department
509 SE 7th Ave, Amarillo, TX 79105
Phone: (806) 378-3045

Amarillo-Potter Events Venue District (for occupancy tax information)
1000 S Polk St, Amarillo, TX 79101
Phone: (806) 378-4297

These departments can provide guidance on the specific rules and requirements for vacation rentals in Amarillo, as well as assist with the permit application process and any zoning or building code issues. They are available to answer questions from both current and prospective short-term rental operators in the city.

What do Airbnb Hosts in Amarillo on Reddit and Bigger Pockets Think About Local Regulations?

In online forums and discussion boards, Airbnb hosts in Amarillo generally seem satisfied with the city's short-term rental regulations, though some feel there is room for improvement. Here's a sampling of what local hosts are saying:"

The city is pretty hands off as far as enforcement goes. As long as you're registered and collecting the hotel tax they leave you alone. I've been operating for 3 years without any issues." (Bigger Pockets)15"

I went through the permitting process last year and it was pretty straightforward. The city's Planning Department was helpful in answering my questions and getting everything submitted. It's a bit of paperwork upfront but not too bad overall." (Reddit)17"

Amarillo is a great market for Airbnb. The demand is strong year-round and the city's rules are reasonable compared to a lot of other places. I think the key is just being proactive about compliance and making sure you're on top of everything." (Bigger Pockets)15"

I wish the city would crack down more on the party houses and problem properties. Most hosts are responsible but there are a few bad apples out there ruining it for the rest of us. More enforcement would help level the playing field." (Reddit)17"

Amarillo could do a better job of communicating the rules and process to new hosts. I had to do a lot of digging to figure out exactly what was required and it wasn't always clear. Some more guidance from the city would be helpful." (Bigger Pockets)15

Overall, the sentiment among Amarillo hosts seems to be that the city's regulations are manageable and not a major impediment to running a successful short-term rental. While there are some frustrations with the permitting process and a desire for more proactive enforcement in some cases, most hosts believe Amarillo is a welcoming market for vacation rentals.

As the industry continues to grow and evolve, it will be important for the city to maintain open lines of communication with short-term rental operators and work collaboratively to address any issues that arise. By striking the right balance between reasonable regulation and support for responsible hosting, Amarillo can continue to reap the economic benefits that vacation rentals provide while ensuring the quality of life for local residents.

Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.