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Westminster Short Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Westminster, California

What are short term rental (Airbnb, VRBO) regulations in Westminster, California?

Renting out your Westminster home or condo on sites like Airbnb and VRBO has become an attractive way to earn extra income. However, the City of Westminster recently implemented regulations around short term rentals to address concerns from residents.

As a Westminster homeowner considering listing your property as a short term rental, it is important to educate yourself on the city requirements. Failing to follow the rules could result in fines or even prevent you from operating your rental business.

This guide breaks down Westminster's short term rental ordinance that was approved on May 22, 2023. We will overview the key regulations including licensing, taxes, documentation, and more. Understanding these rules is the first step to running a smooth and compliant short term rental in Westminster.Whether you are just exploring the short term rental option or gearing up to list your property today, use this resource to learn:

  • The licensing process and fees in Westminster
  • Required documents to submit with your application
  • Tax obligations like sales, accommodations, and business taxes
  • City-wide policies around short term rentals
  • Perspectives from other Westminster hosts on the new regulations
  • Steps to take to start your compliant short term rental business

By being proactive with the licensing process, documenting your rental properly, remitting all required taxes, and following the city policies, you can avoid issues and create a successful short term rental business in Westminster. This guide breaks down everything you need to know to list your Westminster property legally on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO.

Starting a Short Term Rental Business in Westminster

Opening a short term rental (STR) in Westminster recently became possible thanks to new city regulations approved on May 22, 2023. For hosts interested in joining this emerging market, here is what you need to know to get a compliant and profitable STR business up and running.

The first step is ensuring short term rentals are permitted in your community. Review all rules and restrictions imposed by your homeowner's association (HOA) or neighborhood covenant. STRs must be explicitly allowed - if the documents are silent or ambiguous, check with the HOA before proceeding.

Once STRs are confirmed allowed, complete Westminster's short term rental license application. The initial application has no fee and licenses are valid for two years. Be prepared to provide supplemental documentation like your HOA approval letter. Licenses must be renewed every two years for a $200 fee.

In tandem with licensing, every STR host must obtain a Westminster business and sales tax license. You are also required to collect and remit accommodations taxes on all bookings to the city's Finance Department. Stay on top of remitting taxes each period to avoid penalties.

That covers the essential regulations for operating a lawful and complaint STR in the Westminster area. With some advance planning, hosts can successfully navigate the rules and build a prosperous short term rental business. The market is wide open and Westminster provides a welcoming environment for this emerging industry.

Short Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Westminster

The city of Westminster makes it clear - operating a short term rental within city limits without a license is prohibited.

As part of the recently approved regulations that went into effect on May 22, 2023, all hosts renting out residential properties for less than 30 days are now required to obtain and maintain a valid short term rental license issued by the city.

The initial license application is free of charge and, if approved, enables the host to legally operate their rental for a period of two years. For license renewals, the city charges a fee of $200 along with additional processing fees.

By mandating all short term rental hosts go through the licensing process, the city aims to regulate this sector of the accommodation market, applying consistent rules and accountability measures across the board.

With hefty fines in place for those flaunting the regulations, Westminster hosts would be prudent to educate themselves on the license requirements and ensure they operate within the confines of the law. Non-compliance could prove costly.

Required Documents for Westminster Short Term Rentals

Operating a short term rental in Westminster requires proper licensing and documentation. As a prospective host, you must submit the following documents when applying for your short term rental license:

Proof of Homeowners Association Approval

Your homeowners association (HOA) holds significant authority over housing activities in its boundaries. Before Westminster will issue you a license, you must supply confirmation that your HOA permits short term rental operations.This proof can be an official letter, an excerpt from HOA bylaws, or other documentation verifying permission to operate the rental. If your HOA prohibits short term rentals, the city cannot license your property.

Business License

Like any Westminster business, short term rental operators must acquire a general city business license. This requires submitting a business license application and paying licensing fees.The business license confirms you have legal zoning and permissions to conduct commercial activity from a Westminster residence.

Sales Tax Registration

As a short term rental host, you are responsible for assessing, collecting, reporting, and remitting sales tax in Westminster. This mandates acquiring a Sales Tax License through the city’s finance department.This registration enables you to legally collect and pay the accommodations sales taxes charged to short term rental guests.

Accommodations Tax Registration

In addition to sales tax, Westminster levies an accommodations tax on short term rental stays. To legally collect and remit this accommodations tax, you must register through the Finance Department’s accommodation tax program.

This registration is required to host paying short term rental guests in Westminster residences. The registration form is submitted alongside your license application.

Submitting these four documents allows Westminster to license your residential property as a legal short term rental business. Contact the Short Term Rental Office with any questions about documentation or licensing procedures.

Westminster Short Term Rental Taxes

Operating a short term rental (STR) business in Westminster requires paying your fair share of taxes. As a responsible STR host, you must register for, collect, and remit the following taxes:Sales TaxLike any Westminster business selling goods or services, you need a sales tax license. The sales tax rate in Westminster is 8.25%. You must collect this sales tax from your guests on all bookings and remit the tax revenue to the city. Register for your sales tax license through the Sales Tax Division of the Finance Department.

Accommodations TaxThe city of Westminster charges a 7% accommodations tax on all short term lodging. This tax applies specifically to STRs and other temporary rentals less than 30 days. As a Westminster host, you are responsible for collecting this 7% accommodations tax from your guests. You must then submit the tax proceeds regularly to the city’s Finance Department.

Staying current on collecting, reporting, and remitting sales tax plus accommodations tax keeps your STR business complaint. This tax compliance helps fund city services that support Westminster’s economy and quality of life. Contact the Finance Department if you have any questions about registering for your STR tax licenses or submitting your collected tax revenue.

Westminster wide Short Term Rental Rules

The city of Westminster has implemented straightforward regulations that apply to all short term rental operators across the city. By establishing clear guidelines, the city aims to enable short term rental hosts to run their businesses smoothly while protecting neighborhood quality of life.

The Westminster short term rental ordinance lays out citywide regulations including:

One Active Rental Property Per Host

Hosts can only operate one active licensed short term rental property at a time. This prevents issues that can occur from managing multiple dispersed rental units.

Alignment with HOA Rules

Short term rental operators must adhere to any regulations or restrictions set by their homeowner's association (HOA). Reviewing HOA bylaws before listing a property for short term rentals is an essential compliance step.

Tax and Business License Requirements

Those running short term rentals must meet Westminster's requirements for obtaining a business license, sales tax license, and accommodations tax registration. Keeping these licenses current is mandatory.

By condensing the citywide short term rental policies into these three straightforward points, Westminster provides clear direction to hosts while allowing the businesses to operate legally. The simple, unified citywide rules lay the foundation for hosts to understand the expectations and operate successful short term rental properties.

Does Westminster strictly enforce STR rules?” Is Westminster Airbnb friendly?

As Westminster only recently approved regulations for short term rentals (STRs), there is limited data on how strictly the city will enforce the new licensing and tax rules.

Initial indications suggest Westminster aims to take a balanced approach. The city created a licensing system to support compliant STR businesses, rather than banning them outright. This signals Westminster intends to permit STRs, under reasonable regulations.

However, the city does stipulate fines for violations of the STR ordinance. Fines can range from $100 per day up to $2,000 per day for unlicensed properties or license holders found violating regulations. This demonstrates the city's intent to back up the ordinance with concrete enforcement measures.

Ultimately, Westminster appears open to integrating short term rentals, while prioritizing resident concerns about nuisance issues. The city seems poised to let the market operate freely so long as community impacts remain negligible. Time will tell whether Westminster skews toward a more permissive or strict stance as real-world scenarios emerge. For now, the licensing rules coupled with potential fines lead to a mixed forecast - reasonably welcoming short term rentals, but willing to crack down if problems arise.

How to Start a Short Term Rental Business in Westminster

Starting a compliant short-term rental business in Westminster requires following these steps:

1. Evaluate if Your Property Qualifies

First, determine if your Westminster property meets the requirements to legally operate as a short-term rental:

It must be zoned residential and classified as a single-family home, condo, or apartment. Commercial properties do not qualify.

Confirm with your Homeowner's Association (HOA) that short-term rentals are permitted. Review all HOA bylaws and covenants thoroughly.

2. Prepare the Required Documents

Gather all documentation needed to apply for a short-term rental license:

HOA rules showing short-term rentals are allowed

City of Westminster Short-Term Rental License Application

City of Westminster Business License Application

Sales Tax License Application

Accommodations Tax Registration Form

3. Submit Your Short-Term Rental License Application

Complete the Short-Term Rental License Application Form available on the city's website. Upload all required documents. Pay any licensing fees.

4. Register for Taxes

Apply for and obtain both a Sales Tax License and Accommodations Tax Registration from the city. Keep records to later remit collected taxes.

5. Comply with All Westminster Regulations

Once approved, operate your short-term rental according to Westminster's ordinance. This includes collecting and paying taxes, maintaining your license, and obeying all city rules.

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

For Permit Applications & General STR Questions:

STR Support Team

The STR support team handles questions on the permitting process, documents needed, updates to rules, and any issues facing hosts. Reach out to them as the first point of contact.

For Business & Sales Tax Licensing:

Licensing Department

Contact the licensing department specifically regarding obtaining your required business and sales tax licenses to legally operate a short term rental.

For Accommodations Tax Remittance and Registration:

Sales Tax Division

The sales tax team manages registration and collection of accommodations taxes that short term rental hosts must charge guests and submit to the city.

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

Information from Airbnb hosts in Westminster is limited at this early stage of the new short-term rental (STR) licensing program. The city council approved regulations on May 22, 2023, so hosts are just beginning to learn the details and consider the impacts.

Reviewing discussions on Reddit and the real estate investor forum Bigger Pockets provides some initial insight into host views. However, more perspectives will likely emerge over time as hosts apply for licenses and operate under the new rules.

The overall tone seems cautiously optimistic. Hosts appreciate Westminster taking a licensing approach rather than an outright ban. Some concerns exist around the additional bureaucracy and taxes associated with compliance. However, experienced hosts in other regulated markets highlight that clear rules also provide stability for operating a legitimate business.

As the Westminster STR license system launches in the coming months, hosts have an opportunity to work constructively with city leaders. Maintaining an open dialogue will be important for ensuring the regulations balance community needs with supporting local business owners. Both hosts and city officials share an interest in protecting neighborhood quality of life.

Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.