Airbnb and specific hosting licenses, taxes, etc

7 Replies

Hello, I am curious to see if anyone has a link to somewhere that lists specific state/city requirements for Airbnb hosts.  I live in Memphis, and I know that in Nashville this year they passed a law requiring Airbnb hosts to obtain an annual license and also they are now required to pay hotel-type occupancy taxes.  I cannot find anything online about laws for Memphis - not sure if that means there are none, or if I'm missing something.  I have asked around to acquaintances here including people that host, and no one knows.  I have asked Airbnb and they refuse to give "legal advice" and just say to ask my local government.   Airbnb has a list online of certain cities that have such laws, but it may not be up to date.  

Before going through the headache of having to contact local govt departments to try and get an answer, I thought I would try asking on here....  Thank you.  

Hi Emily. I rent my apartment out on AirBnb in Chicago and haven't heard anything about requiring a license. However, we do have to pay hotel taxes on our rentals here. It may be a good idea for you to obtain a business license just to avoid paying more taxes at the end of the year. Good luck.

Hi Emily, Been looking into this both personally and professionally. Professionally, my company works with vacation homeowners and property managers across the US - what you describe is something of a black hole where it seems the market just moved faster than the regulators who have been in catch-up mode. There aren't many places this kind of information is available online. From a personal perspective, recently been looking into various south east locations as a prospective owner (I live in Atlanta) and Memphis is one of my target cities (along with Nashville and much of Florida Gulf Coast). Lot easier to get information for Florida Gulf Coast than Memphis or Nashville. 

I just went through this process in Nashville for 2 short term rentals (actual government distinction). If a rental is under 30 days I will pay hotel tax and must charge sales tax (Nashville rules), if a rental is 30-90 days I must charge sales tax (Tennessee sales tax law) and if it is over 90 days it is not considered a short term rental and thus only subject to income tax rules.  If you are a business then you may also owe Franchise Sales Tax on the income as well as personal. is a service I have researched and will use to help me sort through all this red tape.  Instead of a myriad of government offices first call the Memphis Codes department and see if they have specific codes for short term rentals.

@Rod Witmond really hit the nail on the head here, regarding this being largely a black hole where the market has just moved much faster than regulation. While those that have, have been very publicized, very few cities have taken real action towards regulating Airbnb rentals. With that said, there is probably some form of existing regulatory format regarding ¨B&B´s¨, or other ¨Short-Term Rentals¨ even if they´re not currently referenced with any Airbnb distinction. You can generally find this information by going to whatever your target market´s tourism regulatory body is, and they should be able to provide you with what they have. If you go through that and look past the legalese, it should be fairly straightforward to determine whether your activity will fall within one of those existing categories. If it does, then follow those rules, dot your I´s and cross your T´s. Otherwise, it will be exactly as Airbnb says - you´re operating at your own risk, as just because the regulation isn´t there doesn´t mean it can´t catch up to you. 

Count on paying occupancy taxes (which vary), income taxes, and perhaps licensing and inspection fees - that would be the simplest advice I can give you. If you´re not paying any of these, then you´re just flying under the radar and that´s only going to last so long.

I think you got the Tennessee information you need from a previous poster however you can usually  look at this at a state level and then search your local city site for information.  Just look for rental codes since it usually matters how long you rent for -not who you rent through. Moving quickly so there is really no central site.

Watch for registration requirements as well as taxes. In RI you have to be registered as a rental with the state if you are an out of state landlord but I don't know that in-state people need to register. Rhode island just passed that short term rentals pay the additional hotel tax. People  think of this as new but rentals like this always occurred.  A house for a week at the beach or the mountains was the most affordable vacation.   Cities are just now seeing it more and more through these websites.

I have been renting on ABNB in Franklin.  Just received a letter from Williamson County stating I have been operating as a hotel. I will update once I hear back from the county as to what they require/want.

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