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Cape Coral Short Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Cape Coral, Florida

Starting a Short Term Rental Business in Cape Coral

Cape Coral, located in Southwest Florida, is a popular destination for vacationers with its beautiful beaches, golf courses, and proximity to attractions like Sanibel Island and Fort Myers. This makes it an attractive location for property owners looking to start a short-term rental business on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO.

However, before jumping into the vacation rental market, it's important to understand the local regulations. In 2021, Cape Coral passed an ordinance requiring all residential rental properties with four units or fewer to be registered with the city5. There is a one-time $35 registration fee per property.

The city prohibits rentals shorter than 7 days, though this rule is not always strictly enforced12. Owners must designate a local contact person who can respond to any issues at the property 24/711. Maximum occupancy limits may also apply based on the property type.

While Cape Coral is relatively friendly to short-term rentals compared to some Florida cities, there has been debate in recent years about potentially tightening the rules. Some residents have complained about noise, parties, trash, and frequent turnover of guests in residential neighborhoods14. However, efforts to crack down further on STRs have so far been averted.

Short Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Cape Coral

To legally operate a short-term rental in Cape Coral, owners must submit a Residential Rental Property Registration Form to the city along with the $35 fee511. This applies to all residential structures with four or fewer units that are leased or rented.Properties exempt from registration include:

  • Rentals owned by government housing programs
  • Hotels, motels, and licensed residential facilities with no owner-occupied units

The registration requires owner contact information, details on the property manager or local contact person, and an owner affidavit attesting that the information is accurate. Failing to register is a violation of the city ordinance and may result in fines.

Required Documents for Cape Coral Short Term Rentals

When registering a short-term rental, owners must provide the following to the city11:

  • Completed Residential Rental Property Registration Form
  • Owner contact information
  • Property manager or local contact person details, including name and 24/7 phone number
  • Signed owner affidavit

The local contact person must be 18 years or older and able to respond to any emergencies or issues at the property at all times. Owners are required to keep their registration information up-to-date and notify the city within 15 days of any changes.

Cape Coral Short Term Rental Taxes

Short-term rentals in Cape Coral are subject to a 6% Florida sales tax and 5% Lee County tourist development tax, for a total of 11.5%121718. These taxes apply to the total gross rental amount, including any cleaning fees or other charges.It is the owner's responsibility to collect these taxes from guests and remit them to the proper authorities:

  • Sales tax is remitted to the Florida Department of Revenue
  • Tourist tax is remitted to the Lee County Tax Collector

Failure to comply with tax collection and remittance can result in fines and penalties. Owners can file returns and pay online after registering for an account.

Airbnb collects and remits these taxes on behalf of hosts for bookings made through its platform. However, owners are still responsible for collecting and remitting taxes on any bookings made outside of Airbnb.

Cape Coral wide Short Term Rental Rules

In addition to registering with the city and collecting the proper taxes, short-term rental owners in Cape Coral must follow these key rules:

  • Minimum rental period is 7 days (though not always strictly enforced)12
  • A local contact person must be available 24/7 to respond to any issues11
  • Maximum occupancy limits may apply based on property type8
  • Properties must comply with city codes on noise, trash, property maintenance, etc.3

While these are the main STR-specific regulations, all properties in Cape Coral must follow the general city codes and ordinances regarding things like noise, parking, trash disposal, and property upkeep. Owners can be fined or face other penalties for violations, whether the property is used as a rental or not.

Does Cape Coral strictly enforce STR rules?

The level of enforcement of short-term rental regulations in Cape Coral has varied over time. Officially, the city requires properties to be registered, have a designated local contact, follow the 7-day minimum rental period, and comply with other city codes. In practice, however, some of these rules are not proactively monitored or consistently enforced.

For example, many STR owners have operated without registering, and the city has not always had a clear system for tracking and penalizing unregistered properties4. The 7-day minimum rule is also frequently ignored, with rentals of just a night or weekend not uncommon12.

However, the city does respond to complaints from residents about problem properties. Common issues include excessive noise, overflowing trash bins, illegal parking, and frequent party-like atmosphere in residential areas14. If a property racks up repeated complaints, the city can take action through fines or even revoking an owner's rental license.

Overall, Cape Coral is more welcoming to vacation rentals than some Florida cities. Attempts at heavier restrictions have been defeated after pushback from STR owners and advocates13. Still, the city has made efforts to improve enforcement in recent years by requiring registration, increasing fines, and dedicating more code enforcement staff to monitoring rentals417.

So while Cape Coral may not proactively track down every unregistered rental or minor rule violation, the city has shown it will take action on problem properties when they disrupt neighbors or violate major ordinances. Owners are best advised to follow the registration and other requirements to avoid issues.

How to Start a Short Term Rental Business in Cape Coral

If you're interested in starting a short-term rental business in Cape Coral, follow these key steps:

  • Check the zoning for your property at the city's zoning map portal CapeIMS to confirm that STRs are allowed13.
  • Complete the Residential Rental Property Registration Form with all required information and submit it to the city along with the $35 per property fee11.
  • Designate a local contact person (property manager) who can respond to any issues at the property 24/7. Provide their full name and phone number on your registration form11.
  • Obtain a Florida Department of Revenue certificate of registration for collecting and remitting the 6% sales tax17.
  • Register with the Lee County Tax Collector for an account to remit the 5% tourist development tax18.
  • Understand and follow all city and state rules for short-term rentals, including the 7-day minimum stay requirement, occupancy limits, and compliance with codes on noise, parking, trash, etc.158
  • Set up your property with furniture, amenities, and all required safety equipment. Professionally clean the unit between each guest stay.
  • Create a listing on Airbnb, VRBO, or another STR platform with appealing photos, an accurate description, and a competitive nightly rate.
  • Once you start getting bookings, be sure to collect the 11.5% in state and county taxes from guests and remit them to the proper authorities by the required deadlines121718.
  • Maintain the property in good condition, respond promptly to any guest issues, and be a respectful neighbor to residents in the surrounding area.

By following these steps and operating professionally, you can build a successful short-term rental business in Cape Coral while staying in compliance with all local regulations.

Who to contact in Cape Coral about Short Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

If you have questions about registering your short-term rental or the city's rules for vacation rentals, contact:

Carol Rall, Customer Service Supervisor
Email: Crall@capecoral.gov
Phone: (239) 574-0624For questions about zoning and whether STRs are allowed for a specific property, contact the Cape Coral Zoning Division:
Phone: (239) 574-0584
Email: Zoning@capecoral.govThe city also has a variety of helpful information and links on its Rental Property Registration page.

What do Airbnb hosts in Cape Coral on Reddit and Bigger Pockets think about local regulations?

On the Bigger Pockets forums, some Cape Coral hosts have expressed concerns about the potential for the city to impose stricter regulations on short-term rentals in the future. With the growth of the vacation rental market, there have been increasing complaints from some residents about the impact of STRs on neighborhoods7.

However, most hosts on Bigger Pockets still describe Cape Coral as a relatively friendly city for Airbnb and other short-term rentals compared to some other parts of Florida. Attempts to crack down further on STRs have so far been unsuccessful after significant pushback from owners and property managers7.

On Reddit, discussions among Cape Coral hosts suggest that while the city does have registration requirements and some rules on the books, enforcement is not always consistent or proactive. Many Redditors say they have been able to operate STRs without major issues as long as they avoid generating repeated complaints from neighbors.

The sense from both Reddit and Bigger Pockets is that Cape Coral remains a decent place to operate a short-term rental business, but owners need to make sure they are following the registration process and tax collection requirements. Hosts should also be professional, properly maintain their properties, and be respectful of neighbors to avoid problems with the city.

As the vacation rental industry continues to grow in Cape Coral and throughout Florida, it's possible that regulations will evolve in the future. For now, though, most hosts seem to agree that Cape Coral's STR rules are manageable as long as you stay on top of the key requirements. The city appears more focused on addressing problem properties than aggressively cracking down on the majority of rule-abiding vacation rental owners.

Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.