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Decatur Short Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Decatur, Illinois

What are short term rental (Airbnb, VRBO) regulations in Decatur, Illinois?

Decatur, Illinois has established a comprehensive set of regulations for individuals looking to operate short-term rental properties within the city limits. At the core of these rules is the requirement for property owners to obtain a short-term rental license from the city. This annual $25 license is designed to ensure that rental hosts are properly registered, paying the required taxes, and maintaining their properties in a way that does not create nuisances for neighboring residents.

Beyond the licensing mandate, Decatur has implemented a number of other guidelines that short-term rental operators must adhere to. These include zoning restrictions, which dictate where such rentals are permitted, as well as occupancy limits, safety standards, and parking requirements. For example, Decatur caps short-term rental occupancy at 2 people per bedroom, and requires that each bedroom have dedicated off-street parking available.

Hosts must also be mindful of Decatur's hotel/motel tax, which adds an 8% levy on top of the state's 6% hotel tax. Accurately calculating, collecting, and remitting these taxes to the appropriate authorities is a critical responsibility for anyone operating a short-term rental in the city.

While Decatur does have these regulations in place, enforcement can be somewhat inconsistent. Some hosts have reported successfully operating their Airbnb or VRBO properties without issue, while others have faced scrutiny and potential penalties from the city. The overall "Airbnb friendliness" of Decatur compared to other municipalities seems to be a mixed bag, with experiences varying based on individual circumstances and interpretations of the rules.

For those looking to start a short-term rental business in Decatur, the process involves several key steps. First, prospective hosts must carefully research the local market to identify areas with high demand and favorable zoning. Selecting the right investment property is crucial, as is verifying that short-term rentals are permitted in that particular location.

Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits from the city is also a critical early task.Individuals with questions about Decatur's short-term rental regulations or the zoning requirements can reach out directly to the city's planning department or zoning authorities for guidance.

Additionally, online forums like Reddit and Bigger Pockets can provide valuable insights from Decatur-based Airbnb and VRBO hosts, who share their firsthand experiences navigating the local regulatory landscape.Overall, Decatur has taken a measured approach to short-term rentals, seeking to balance the needs of property owners with the concerns of the broader community.

By understanding and adhering to the city's rules, hosts can establish successful and compliant vacation rental businesses that contribute positively to Decatur's tourism economy.

Starting a Short Term Rental Business in Decatur

Launching a short-term rental business in Decatur requires a strategic and well-researched approach. Prospective hosts should begin by thoroughly analyzing the local market to identify areas with high demand for vacation rentals and a favorable regulatory environment. Selecting an investment property that aligns with zoning laws and appeals to potential guests is crucial.

Collaborating with a reputable real estate agent can facilitate the property acquisition process, ensuring a smooth transaction. Any necessary renovations should be carried out in compliance with safety standards to enhance the property's appeal and meet guest expectations.

Thoughtful furnishing and design can further attract guests and boost occupancy rates. Determining the appropriate business structure, such as a limited liability company (LLC) or sole proprietorship, and obtaining the necessary licenses and permits are essential steps before listing the property for rent.

Short Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Decatur

Based on the search results, here are the key details about the short-term rental licensing requirement in Decatur, Illinois:

  • Decatur requires property owners to obtain a short-term rental license that must be renewed annually at a cost of $25.
  • The license is intended to ensure owners pay required taxes and that short-term rentals do not create nuisances.
  • The registration form requires the property owner to provide information such as the property address, an affirmation that they reside at the property at least 275 days per year, and proof of adequate insurance coverage.
  • Decatur has a limit of no more than six short-term rental registrations at any one time, though the city council can adjust this maximum.
  • Owners must maintain a log of rental dates and guest numbers, and provide this information as part of the annual registration renewal.

In summary, Decatur has implemented a licensing system to regulate and monitor short-term rental properties within the city, with specific requirements around owner occupancy, insurance, record-keeping, and a cap on the total number of licensed rentals.

Required Documents for Decatur Short Term Rentals

Decatur, Illinois has established a thorough set of documentation requirements for property owners looking to operate short-term rental properties within the city limits. At the heart of these regulations is the short-term rental registration form, which serves as the gateway for obtaining the necessary license.

Through this registration process, Decatur requires owners to provide key details about the rental property, such as the physical address and an affirmation that they reside at the location for at least 275 days per year. Proof of adequate insurance coverage is also a mandatory component of the registration.Beyond the initial registration, Decatur takes additional steps to ensure the safety and compliance of short-term rental units. This includes mandating a life safety inspection of the property before approving the registration.

The inspection helps verify that the rental meets relevant building codes and fire safety standards, providing peace of mind for both the city and prospective guests.Maintaining detailed records is another crucial requirement for Decatur short-term rental operators. Owners must keep a meticulous log documenting the dates of each rental period, as well as the number of guests occupying the property. This information must be provided as part of the annual registration renewal process, allowing the city to monitor activity and ensure proper tax remittance.

Depending on the specific property and any renovations or modifications made, short-term rental hosts in Decatur may also need to obtain various building or trade permits. These could include permits related to electrical work, plumbing, or structural changes - all of which must be secured and kept on file.

The comprehensive documentation requirements established by Decatur underscore the city's commitment to regulating the short-term rental market and maintaining a high standard of quality and safety. By adhering to these guidelines, property owners can demonstrate their responsible stewardship of the rental property and their dedication to operating within the bounds of local laws and ordinances.

Overall, the documentation mandates in Decatur serve as a crucial component of the city's broader short-term rental regulatory framework. Prospective hosts must be prepared to navigate this process diligently, ensuring they have all the necessary paperwork in order before welcoming their first guests.

Decatur Short Term Rental Taxes

Short-term rental operators in Decatur are subject to taxation by the state of Illinois, including taxes related to short-term rentals. Understanding and fulfilling tax obligations, such as calculating, collecting, and remitting applicable taxes from guests, are essential responsibilities for operators to avoid penalties and maintain compliance with tax laws.

Decatur-wide Short Term Rental Rules

The Decatur-wide short-term rental rules include the following key regulations:

  • Primary Residence Requirement: The short-term rental property must be the property owner's primary residence.
  • Residency: The property owner must reside at the property for at least 275 days each calendar year.
  • Accessory and Secondary Dwellings: Accessory or secondary dwelling units may not be used as short-term rentals.
  • Parking: All overnight parking must be on-site and on improved surfaces. Properties with adjacent driveways may not be used as short-term rentals.
  • Maximum Guests: No short-term rental shall serve more than 10 guests per night.
  • Minimum Length of Stay: Short-term rentals must be rented for a minimum of two consecutive nights.
  • Maximum Length of Stay: Short-term rentals cannot be rented for more than 45 days or more than 15 individual booking periods in any calendar year, whichever limit is reached first.
  • Fire Safety Requirements: All short-term rentals must have a fire alarm system monitored by a UL certified central station and comply with specific life safety requirements.
  • Life Safety Inspection: A life safety inspection of the property is required before approving a short-term rental registration.
  • Registration Limit: The city allows a maximum of six registered short-term rentals at any one time, with the option for the Village Board to adjust this number.
  • Log Keeping: Owners must maintain a log of rental dates and guest numbers for each booking period.
  • Advertising and Signage: Restrictions on advertising and signage for short-term rentals are in place to maintain the character of the neighborhood.

These rules aim to ensure the safety, quality, and responsible operation of short-term rentals in Decatur, Illinois, while also preserving the residential character of the community.

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

Decatur's enforcement of short-term rental rules can vary, and while some hosts may choose to operate outside the regulations, compliance is strongly recommended to avoid potential consequences. The city's friendliness towards Airbnb compared to other municipalities may differ based on individual experiences and interpretations of the regulations.

Hosts should prioritize understanding and adhering to the rules to maintain a positive relationship with the city and guests, as well as to avoid any legal issues.

How to Start a Short Term Rental Business in Decatur

To initiate a short-term rental business in Decatur, follow the comprehensive steps outlined above, ensuring adherence to all regulations and obtaining the requisite licenses and permits. This includes:

  • Conduct market research to identify high-demand areas and zoning compliance.
  • Select an investment property that meets legal requirements and guest appeal.
  • Collaborate with a real estate agent to facilitate the property acquisition process.
  • Undertake necessary renovations in compliance with safety standards.
  • Furnish the rental property to attract guests and boost occupancy.
  • Determine the appropriate business structure and obtain necessary licenses/permits.
  • List the property for rent and manage day-to-day operations.

Who to Contact in Decatur about Short Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

For inquiries regarding short-term rental regulations and zoning in Decatur, individuals can reach out to the City of Decatur directly. Contacting the city's planning department or relevant zoning authorities can provide detailed information and guidance on navigating the regulatory landscape effectively.

What do Airbnb Hosts in Decatur on Reddit and Bigger Pockets Think about Local Regulations?

Reddit and Bigger Pockets serve as platforms where Airbnb hosts in Decatur share insights and experiences regarding local regulations. Hosts may offer valuable perspectives, anecdotes, and opinions on navigating and complying with the regulatory framework in Decatur, providing firsthand accounts of operating short-term rentals in the city.

These online forums can offer a glimpse into the challenges and strategies employed by Decatur-based hosts.

Additional Tips for Decatur Short Term Rental Hosts

  • Ensure compliance with local noise ordinances to avoid potential issues with neighbors and maintain a positive relationship with the community.
  • Familiarize yourself with Decatur's health and safety regulations to provide a safe and comfortable environment for guests.
  • Understand the city's policies on short-term rentals in residential areas to avoid conflicts with neighboring residents.
  • Consider hiring a professional property management company to handle day-to-day operations and ensure compliance with local regulations.
  • Maintain accurate records of all transactions, guest interactions, and maintenance activities to demonstrate transparency and adherence to local rules.
  • Stay informed about any updates or changes to Decatur's short-term rental regulations to ensure ongoing compliance.


Operating a successful and compliant short-term rental business in Decatur requires a thorough understanding of the local regulatory landscape. By following the steps outlined in this article and staying informed about the latest rules and requirements, hosts can navigate the Decatur short-term rental market effectively and provide a positive experience for both guests and the community.

Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.