Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.

Fairbanks Short-Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Fairbanks, Alaska

Starting a Short-Term Rental Business in Fairbanks

Fairbanks, Alaska, is a popular destination for visitors looking to experience the state's natural beauty and outdoor adventures. As a result, short-term rentals through booking platforms like Airbnb and VRBO have become increasingly common in the area. However, before starting an STR business in Fairbanks, it's crucial to understand the local regulations.

According to the Fairbanks North Star Borough Code, STRs are considered a "tourist home" and are subject to specific zoning requirements. To legally operate an STR in Fairbanks, you'll need to:

  • Obtain a business license from the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the State of Alaska. This is required for any business activity, including renting out property for income.
  • Ensure your property is located in a zoning district, allowing tourist homes to be used conditionally. Tourist homes are permitted in certain residential and commercial zones with approval from the planning commission.
  • Apply for a conditional use permit from the Borough's Department of Community Planning. This process involves submitting a site plan, floor plan, and other documentation to demonstrate compliance with zoning regulations.
  • Collect and remit an 8% room tax to the Fairbanks North Star Borough on all rental income. This tax is in addition to any applicable state and local sales taxes.
  • Follow occupancy limits, parking requirements, and other zoning regulations specific to tourist homes in your area.

Anecdotally, some Fairbanks residents have expressed concerns about the impact of STRs on housing availability and neighborhood character, as discussed in local forums like Reddit. However, proponents argue that STRs support tourism and provide income opportunities for property owners.

Overall, Fairbanks has established a regulatory framework to balance the interests of STR operators, residents, and visitors. By carefully following the borough's requirements, including obtaining the necessary licenses, permits, and paying applicable taxes, you can legally operate a short-term rental business in Fairbanks.

Short-Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Fairbanks

To legally launch and operate a short-term rental in Fairbanks, Alaska, property owners must obtain the necessary licenses and permits from the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the State of Alaska. Here are the key licensing requirements:

  1. Fairbanks North Star Borough Business License
    -All businesses operating in the borough, including STRs, must obtain a general business license.
    -The license application requires basic information about the business and owner, as well as the business location.
    -Licenses must be renewed annually.
  2. State of Alaska Business License
    -In addition to the borough license, STR operators must also obtain a state business license from the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development.
    -This license is required for any business activity generating income in Alaska, including rental income from STRs.
  3. Conditional Use Permit for Tourist Homes
    -The Fairbanks North Star Borough Code classifies STRs as "tourist homes," which are permitted as conditional use in certain zoning districts.
    -Operators must apply for a conditional use permit from the Department of Community Planning.
    -The application process involves submitting site plans, floor plans, and other documentation to demonstrate compliance with zoning regulations.
  4. Room Tax Registration
    -STR operators in Fairbanks must register with the borough to collect and remit an 8% room tax on all rental income.
    -Registration is required to obtain a room tax account number and file monthly tax returns.

Failure to obtain the required licenses and permits can result in fines, penalties, and potential legal action from the borough or state. The Fairbanks North Star Borough takes an active role in enforcing STR regulations, including responding to neighbors' complaints about noise, parking, or occupancy violations.

When applying for licenses and permits, STR operators should be prepared to provide detailed information about their property, including the address, number of bedrooms, and maximum occupancy. They may also need to demonstrate compliance with zoning requirements, such as off-street parking and occupancy limits.

It's important for STR operators in Fairbanks to stay informed about any changes to licensing requirements or regulations. The borough and state websites provide the most current information, and staff are available to answer questions and provide guidance.

By carefully navigating the licensing process and maintaining compliance with all applicable regulations, property owners can legally operate successful short-term rental businesses in Fairbanks while contributing to the local tourism economy and respecting the wider community's interests.

Required Documents for Fairbanks Short-Term Rentals

Property owners must submit several required documents to the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the State of Alaska to apply for the necessary licenses and permits to operate a short-term rental in Fairbanks, Alaska. These documents ensure that the STR complies with local and state regulations and provides necessary information for enforcement and tax purposes. The required documents include:

  1. Business License Application Forms
    -Completed application forms for both the Fairbanks North Star Borough and State of Alaska business licenses.
    -Forms require basic information about the business, owner, and location.
  2. Conditional Use Permit Application
    -A completed application for a conditional use permit for a "tourist home" from the Borough's Department of Community Planning.
    -A detailed site plan showing the property boundaries, structures, parking areas, and other relevant features must be included.
    -A floor plan of the STR unit indicating the number and location of bedrooms, bathrooms, and other living spaces.
  3. Proof of Property Ownership
    -A copy of the deed or property tax bill showing the applicant as the owner.
    -If the applicant is not the owner, a notarized letter from the owner authorizing the operation of an STR.
  4. Occupancy Limit Calculation
    -A calculation of the maximum occupancy limit for the STR based on the number of bedrooms and the septic system capacity (if applicable).
    -The occupancy limit must comply with the standards set forth in the Fairbanks North Star Borough Code.
  5. Parking Plan
    -A plan showing the number and location of off-street parking spaces available for STR guests.
    -The parking plan must demonstrate compliance with the minimum parking requirements outlined in the borough code.
  6. Room Tax Registration Form
    -A completed registration form to obtain a room tax account number from the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
    -This account number is required to remit the 8% room tax on STR income.
  7. Proof of Insurance
    -Documentation showing the STR property is covered by appropriate liability insurance.
    -The borough or state may specify minimum coverage amounts.
  8. State Business License Documentation
    -Any additional documentation required by the State of Alaska for obtaining a business license, such as proof of compliance with state tax laws or professional licensing requirements (if applicable).

By submitting these required documents, STR operators demonstrate their compliance with Fairbanks North Star Borough and State of Alaska regulations and provide necessary information for monitoring and enforcement. Property owners should carefully review the current requirements and ensure that all documents are complete and accurate before submitting their applications to avoid delays or denials.

The borough and state may request additional information or documentation as needed to verify compliance with specific regulations or address any concerns or issues related to the proposed STR operation. Maintaining accurate and up-to-date records is essential for the successful operation of a short-term rental business in Fairbanks.

Fairbanks Short-Term Rental Taxes

Short-term rental (STR) operators in Fairbanks, Alaska, are responsible for collecting and remitting several types of taxes on their rental income:

  1. Fairbanks North Star Borough Room Tax
    -The borough levies an 8% room tax on all short-term room rentals of less than 30 consecutive days.
    -This tax applies to STRs, hotels, motels, and other temporary lodging accommodations within the borough.
    -STR operators must register with the borough to obtain a room tax account number and file monthly tax returns.
  2. Alaska State Sales Tax
    -While Alaska does not have a statewide sales tax, some municipalities impose local sales taxes that may apply to STRs.
    -In Fairbanks, there is currently no local sales tax on short-term rentals.
    -However, STR operators should stay informed about any potential future sales tax implementations.
  3. Federal Income Tax
    -Income earned from short-term rentals is subject to federal income tax reporting.
    -STR operators must report their rental income and expenses on Schedule E of their federal tax return.
    -Proper record-keeping and accounting are essential for accurately reporting STR income and deductions.

It's important to note that some cities within the Fairbanks North Star Borough may have additional local taxes or regulations specific to short-term rentals. For example, the City of Fairbanks has considered implementing a separate room tax on STRs in the past, though no such tax is currently in effect.

Failure to properly collect and remit the required borough room tax can result in significant penalties, interest, and potential legal action. The Fairbanks North Star Borough actively monitors STR listings and conducts audits to ensure compliance with tax regulations.

To assist with tax compliance, many STR operators use specialized vacation rental software that automatically calculates and collects the appropriate taxes from guests. These systems can also generate detailed reports and remittance forms to streamline the tax filing process.

It's important for STR operators in Fairbanks to stay informed about any changes to local and state tax laws that may impact their business. Consulting with a qualified tax professional who specializes in short-term rentals can help ensure proper compliance and maximize any available deductions.

By understanding and fulfilling their tax obligations, STR operators in Fairbanks can contribute to the local economy and maintain a positive relationship with the community. Proper tax compliance is a legal requirement and demonstrates a commitment to being a responsible and ethical business owner.

Alaska Wide Short-Term Rental Rules

While many short-term rental regulations in Alaska are determined at the local level by cities and boroughs, there are a few statewide rules and requirements that apply:

  1. Alaska Business License
    -Anyone operating an STR in Alaska and generating rental income must obtain an Alaska business license.
    -This requirement applies regardless of whether the rental activity is considered a full-time business or a side income.
    -The business license must be renewed every two years.
  2. Tax Obligations
    -STR operators in Alaska are responsible for reporting and paying all applicable taxes on their rental income.
    -This includes federal income taxes and any state or local sales taxes and lodging taxes imposed by municipalities.
    -Proper record-keeping and accounting are essential for accurate tax reporting and compliance.
  3. Safety Standards
    -While Alaska does not have statewide safety standards specifically for STRs, rental properties must still comply with general building, fire, and health codes.
    -This includes requirements for smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and other safety measures to protect guests.
  4. Landlord-Tenant Laws
    -Alaska's Landlord-Tenant Act generally does not apply to STRs, as they are considered transient occupancies rather than traditional residential leases.
    -However, some provisions of the act may still be relevant, such as the requirement to provide habitable premises and maintain the property in good repair.
  5. Fair Housing Laws
    -STR operators in Alaska must comply with federal and state fair housing laws, which prohibit discrimination in housing based on protected characteristics like race, color, religion, national origin, disability, and familial status.
    -Hosts cannot discriminate against potential guests or impose discriminatory policies or restrictions.
  6. Insurance Requirements
    -While not mandated by state law, it is highly recommended that STR operators carry appropriate liability insurance to protect themselves and their guests.
    -Some municipalities, like Anchorage, are considering implementing minimum insurance requirements for STRs as part of their local regulations.

It's important to note that these statewide rules represent the baseline requirements for operating an STR in Alaska. Many cities and boroughs have implemented additional local regulations, such as permitting processes, zoning restrictions, occupancy limits, and specific tax obligations.

STR operators must carefully research and comply with all applicable state and local laws and regulations in their area. Failure to do so can result in fines, legal action, and potential revocation of licenses or permits.

By staying informed and maintaining compliance with both statewide and local requirements, STR hosts in Alaska can contribute positively to the state's tourism economy while being responsible members of their communities.

Does Fairbanks Strictly Enforce STR Rules?

Based on discussions in real estate investing forums like Bigger Pockets and Reddit, it appears that Fairbanks and the Fairbanks North Star Borough take a relatively strict approach to enforcing short-term rental regulations compared to some other cities in Alaska.

Several hosts have reported that the borough is proactive in monitoring STR listings and ensuring compliance with licensing, permitting, and zoning requirements. One Bigger Pockets user shared their experience:

"I tried to operate an Airbnb in Fairbanks without going through the proper channels, and the borough came down on me pretty hard. They fined me and threatened legal action if I didn't shut down or get properly licensed and permitted. It was a wake-up call that they take this stuff seriously."

Another Reddit user commented:

"Fairbanks is definitely not the most Airbnb-friendly place in Alaska. The borough has a lot of regulations around zoning, occupancy limits, and taxes that you have to follow to the letter. They seem to prioritize protecting residential neighborhoods over promoting STRs."

Compared to larger cities like Anchorage, which has a more established and regulated STR market, Fairbanks appears to be less accommodating to hosts who try to operate outside of the established rules and regulations.

However, some hosts argue that the borough's strict enforcement is necessary to maintain order and prevent issues like overcrowding, noise, and parking problems in residential areas. One Bigger Pockets user noted:

"While the regulations in Fairbanks can be a hassle, I appreciate that the borough is trying to strike a balance between allowing STRs and preserving the quality of life in neighborhoods. Too many unregulated Airbnbs can really disrupt a community."

Overall, the consensus among Bigger Pockets and Reddit users seems to be that operating an STR in Fairbanks requires strict compliance with the borough's rules and regulations. Hosts who attempt to fly under the radar or skirt the requirements risk facing significant fines, legal action, and potentially having their operations shut down.

As one Reddit user advised:

"If you want to run an Airbnb in Fairbanks, you need to do it by the book. Get your licenses, permits, and zoning approvals in order. The borough isn't messing around, and it's not worth the risk of getting caught and penalized."

While the regulatory environment in Fairbanks may be more challenging for STR hosts compared to some other areas, those who are willing to navigate the process and operate legally and responsibly can still find success in this market.

How to Start a Short-Term Rental Business in Fairbanks

If you're interested in starting a short-term rental business in Fairbanks, Alaska, here are the essential steps to follow:

  1. Research and understand Fairbanks' STR regulations
    -Review the Fairbanks North Star Borough Code and zoning requirements for "tourist homes."
    -Ensure your property is located in a zoning district that allows STRs as a conditional use.
    -Familiarize yourself with occupancy limits, parking requirements, and other applicable regulations.
  2. Obtain necessary licenses and permits
    -Apply for a Fairbanks North Star Borough business license.
    -Apply for a State of Alaska business license.
    -Submit an application for a conditional use permit for a "tourist home" to the Department of Community Planning.
    -Provide all required documentation, such as site plans, floor plans, and proof of ownership.
  3. Register for room tax collection
    -Register with the Fairbanks North Star Borough to obtain a room tax account number.
    -Familiarize yourself with the requirements for collecting and remitting the 8% room tax on rental income.
  4. Prepare your property for guests
    -Make any necessary upgrades or repairs to ensure your rental meets all safety and habitability standards.
    -Install required safety features, such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
    -Furnish and equip the rental to provide a comfortable and inviting experience for guests.
  5. Set up your business operations
    -Choose a business structure (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.) and register with the appropriate state and local agencies.
    -Open a separate bank account for your rental business to keep your finances organized.
    -Establish a system for managing bookings, guest communication, cleaning, and maintenance.
  6. List your property on short-term rental platforms
    -Create attractive listings on popular platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, showcasing your property's unique features and amenities.
    -Develop a competitive pricing strategy that accounts for local demand and your operating costs, which is where rental estimate calculators can come in handy.
    -Establish clear house rules and booking policies to set expectations for guests and protect your property.
  7. Manage your bookings and guests
    -Respond promptly to inquiries and booking requests to secure reservations and build a positive reputation.
    -Provide excellent customer service throughout the guest experience, from pre-arrival communication to post-stay follow-up.
    -Arrange for regular cleaning and maintenance between bookings to ensure your property remains in top condition.
  8. Comply with tax requirements
    -Collect and remit the 8% Fairbanks North Star Borough room tax on your rental income.
    -Report your STR income and expenses on your federal and state tax returns.
    -Keep accurate records of all rental transactions for tax purposes.
  9. Stay compliant and adapt as needed
    -Monitor any changes to local regulations, zoning, or tax requirements that may impact your business.
    -Renew your licenses and permits annually and maintain current tax registrations.
    -Adapt your business practices as needed to ensure ongoing compliance and success.

Starting an STR business in Fairbanks requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a commitment to compliance with local regulations. By following these steps and working closely with borough officials, you can build a successful and sustainable rental operation that contributes positively to the Fairbanks community.

Remember to consult with legal and tax professionals as needed to ensure you are fully compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. With the right approach and a dedication to providing excellent guest experiences, your Fairbanks STR business can thrive in this growing market.

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

If you have questions or concerns about short-term rental regulations and zoning in Fairbanks, there are several key contacts who can provide guidance and assistance:

  1. Fairbanks North Star Borough Department of Community Planning
    The Department of Community Planning is responsible for administering and enforcing zoning regulations, including those related to short-term rentals (classified as "tourist homes")
    Contact: Zoning Counter
    Phone: (907) 459-1260
    Email: zoningcounter@fnsb.gov
  2. Fairbanks North Star Borough Clerk's Office
    The Clerk's Office handles business licensing and can assist with questions about obtaining a borough business license for your STR
    Contact: Business Licensing Division
    Phone: (907) 459-1000
    Email: businesslicensing@fnsb.gov
  3. Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
    The DCCED oversees business licensing at the state level and can provide information about obtaining an Alaska business license for your STR
    Contact: Business Licensing Section
    Phone: (907) 465-2550
    Email: businesslicensing@alaska.gov
  4. Fairbanks North Star Borough Tax Division
    The Tax Division administers the borough's room tax and can provide guidance on registering for and remitting the tax on your STR income
    Contact: Room Tax Department
    Phone: (907) 459-1020
    Email: roomtax@fnsb.gov
  5. Fairbanks North Star Borough Code Enforcement Division
    The Code Enforcement Division investigates complaints and enforces regulations related to STRs, including issues like noise, parking, and occupancy violations
    Contact: Code Enforcement Division
    Phone: (907) 459-1092
    Email: codeenforcement@fnsb.gov

When contacting these offices, be prepared to provide specific details about your property and your plans for operating a short-term rental. The more information you can provide upfront, the more targeted and helpful the guidance you receive will be.

In addition to these official contacts, consider connecting with local STR associations or host groups in the Fairbanks area. These organizations can provide valuable insights and support from experienced operators who are familiar with the local regulatory landscape.

Remember that regulations and requirements can change over time, so it's important to stay in touch with these contacts and regularly review the latest information on the borough and state websites. Building positive relationships with local officials and staying proactive about compliance can help ensure the long-term success of your STR business in Fairbanks.

Disclaimer: While we here at BNBCalc strive to keep all of our city regulation guides updated and accurate with all the latest local laws, we still do not suggest using them as your sole or primary source for local regulations. We also do not recommend you rely on the third-party sources we link to or reference, and we are not responsible for any of the information on these third-party sites. These guides are for entertainment purposes only and only provide basic information and should not be considered as legal advice.

We highly recommend directly contacting the responsible parties for each city and hearing what their officials have to say. Ultimately, it's your responsibility as an investor to ensure you fully comply with the local laws, and it's best to speak with professionals before making an investment decision.

Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.