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St. Petersburg Short Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

St. Petersburg, Florida

Starting a Short Term Rental Business in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, Florida is a popular tourist destination known for its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and vibrant downtown. As such, it can be an attractive market for starting a short-term rental (STR) business on platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo. However, before launching an STR in St. Pete, it's critical to understand the local regulations.

The city of St. Petersburg has specific rules around short-term rentals that limit how frequently a property can be rented out. In most residential areas, a property can only be used as a short-term rental (defined as less than 30 days) a maximum of 3 times per year, unless it is in a zone that specifically allows hotels/motels or has a special exception12.

So while it is possible to operate a short-term rental in St. Petersburg, hosts need to be very careful to stay within the allowed rental frequency to avoid violations. Later sections will cover the rules in more detail.

Short Term Rental Licensing Requirement in St. Petersburg

To legally rent out a property short-term in St. Petersburg, hosts must obtain a Business Tax Receipt from the city4. This serves as a license to operate a business.No additional special permit or license specific to short-term rentals is required in St. Petersburg2. As long as the host has a Business Tax Receipt and follows the other STR regulations, they can rent out their property on a short-term basis.

Required Documents for St. Petersburg Short Term Rentals

To get set up as a short-term rental in St. Petersburg, hosts need:

  • A Business Tax Receipt from the City of St. Petersburg
  • A Florida Department of Revenue certificate of registration for collecting and remitting sales taxes
  • A Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants license for sanitation and safety if renting out two or more units4
  • Proper insurance that covers short-term renting is also strongly recommended. Hosts should inform their insurance carrier of their rental business.

St. Petersburg Short Term Rental Taxes

Short-term rental operators in St. Petersburg are required to collect and remit the following taxes4:

  • 6% State Transient Rental Tax
  • 5% Pinellas County Tourist Development Tax
  • 7% State Sales Tax
  • 1% Pinellas County Discretionary Sales Surtax

These taxes must be collected from guests and paid to the proper state and local agencies. Failure to do so can result in fines and legal issues for hosts.

St. Petersburg-wide Short Term Rental Rules

The key rule for short-term rentals in St. Petersburg is the rental frequency limit. In most areas zoned as residential, a property can only be rented out short-term (less than 30 days) a maximum of 3 times in a 365 day period12.

This means a host could not, for example, rent out their property every weekend or even every month in these zones. The only exception is if the property is in an area specifically zoned to allow hotels/motels or if the host gets a special exception from the city.

There are also some areas of St. Petersburg, like Coastal Islands Overlay districts, that prohibit short-term rentals entirely4. So hosts need to check the specific zoning of any property they want to use as an STR.

In terms of occupancy, St. Petersburg caps short-term rentals at 2 people per bedroom, plus 2 additional people per property, up to a maximum of 10 people total4. So a 2-bedroom could sleep 6, a 3-bedroom could sleep 8, etc.

Does St. Petersburg strictly enforce STR rules?

Based on discussions from STR hosts on Reddit and Bigger Pockets, St. Petersburg does actively look for and investigate short-term rentals that may be violating the 3-stays-per-year rule3. The city relies on neighbors to report suspected violations, and then code enforcement officers will research the property.

However, some hosts say that enforcement is inconsistent and many STRs operate under the radar by not drawing attention from neighbors3. Officially though, St. Petersburg is fairly strict compared to other Florida cities in limiting short-term rentals.

Several real estate professionals on the forums said they would not recommend buying an investment property in St. Petersburg with the intent to do short-term renting, unless it was in one of the hotel/motel zones, due to the restrictive 3-stay rule3. They characterized St. Pete as not very Airbnb-friendly overall.

How to Start a Short Term Rental Business in St. Petersburg

If you want to start a short-term rental business in St. Petersburg, follow these steps:

  • Check the zoning of your property to confirm short-term rentals are allowed. Remember, most residential zones only allow 3 stays per year.
  • Obtain a Business Tax Receipt from the City of St. Petersburg.
  • Register your business with the Florida Department of Revenue and Pinellas County Tax Collector to collect and remit required taxes.
  • If renting out two or more units, get a license from the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants.
  • Set up your Airbnb, Vrbo, and/or other STR platform listings. Be upfront in your description about the 3-stay per year limit.
  • Utilize a dynamic pricing tool like Wheelhouse or Beyond Pricing to optimize your rates.
  • Establish a reliable cleaning and turnover process for your property between guests. Consider hiring a reputable STR management company.
  • Be a respectful and communicative host to your guests and neighbors. Follow all regulations carefully to avoid violations.

Who to contact in St. Petersburg about Short Term Rental Regulations and Zoning

For questions about zoning and allowable uses for a specific property, contact the St. Petersburg Zoning Department at 727-893-7471 or zoning@stpete.org.

For questions about short-term rental taxes, contact the Pinellas County Tax Collector at 727-464-7777 or taxcollector@taxcollect.com. You can also contact the Florida Department of Revenue at 850-488-6800.

To apply for a Business Tax Receipt, visit the City of St. Petersburg Business Tax Division website at https://www.stpete.org/businesses/business_tax/index.php or contact them at 727-893-7241 or businesstax@stpete.org.

What do Airbnb hosts in St. Petersburg on Reddit and Bigger Pockets think about local regulations?

On the St. Petersburg, FL subreddit, one host asked how other STR operators "get around" the 30-day minimum rental requirement3. Responses characterized operating STRs in St. Pete as "going 75mph in a 55mph zone" and hoping not to get caught.However, several replied that the question was misunderstanding the rule - STRs are allowed but only for 3 stays per year in most areas. One Redditor linked to an overview of Pinellas County STR rules3.

Another thread on the Bigger Pockets STR forum asked about investing in St. Petersburg Airbnbs6. Responders said that due to the 3-stay limit, they would not recommend buying there just for short-term renting unless the property was in a zone that allows hotels.

Overall, the sentiment is that while some STR hosts operate in St. Pete, often skirting or unaware of the rules, the city is known for having strict limits on short-term rentals that make it a challenging market compared to other parts of Florida. Hosts need to understand the regulations and be willing to limit their rental frequency to avoid violations.

In summary, St. Petersburg has a vibrant tourism scene that can make it an appealing place to start a short-term rental business. However, the city's regulations limit most properties to only 3 short-term stays per year, unless in a designated zone. Hosts must obtain a business tax receipt, collect required taxes, and follow all rules to legally operate. While some STRs fly under the radar, St. Pete is generally considered a strict market for Airbnb-style rentals compared to other cities. Potential hosts should thoroughly research the regulations before starting an STR business in St. Petersburg.

Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.