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Short-Term Rental Rules and Regulations in California

Short-Term Rental Rules and Regulations in California

Primior is a Southern California real estate firm offering vertically integrated services from pre-development to asset management, ensuring seamless project execution.


Short-Term Rental Rules and Regulations in California

Short-Term Rental Rules and Regulations in California

Short-term rentals in California are getting more popular every day. This growth is thanks to websites like Primior, which make it easy for anyone to rent out their property for short stays. This opportunity is not just great for travelers; it’s also a smart way for property owners to earn extra money. But, with this chance comes the need to keep up with the rules that govern short-term rentals. Knowing these rules well means you can make the most of your property without any trouble.

Short-Term Rental Definitions and Regulations in California

In California, a “short-term rental” means any home, or part of one, rented out for 30 days or less. This is based on California Senate Bill No. 60, Chapter 307. It’s a broad definition that covers a lot of different rental situations.

However, it’s crucial to understand that not all short-term rentals are the same. For instance, what some people call a “vacation rental” might have specific rules in certain cities. Because of this, it’s essential to know the exact terms used in your area. Here’s why that matters:

  • Different Rules in Different Places: Cities across California can have their own set of rules for short-term rentals. What’s allowed in Los Angeles might not be the same in San Francisco. This can affect everything from how you list your rental to how much tax you pay.
  • Permits and Registration: Depending on where your property is, you might need to get a permit or register your rental with the city. This is how local governments keep track of rentals and ensure they meet safety and quality standards.
  • Taxes: Short-term rentals can also have different tax requirements. Knowing what taxes you need to pay is part of running your rental correctly and legally.

These details are key to running a successful short-term rental in California. It’s about more than just listing your property online. You need to be aware of the local rules, get the right permits, and pay any taxes due. Doing so will help you avoid any problems and keep your rental business running smoothly.

Starting Your Short-Term Rental Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

Thinking about starting a short-term rental in California? Here’s what you need to do to make sure everything is set up right:

  • Register Your Business: The first step is to let the state know about your rental business. This means registering with the right state agencies. It’s a way to tell them, “Hey, I’m running a rental business,” and it’s a must-do to stay on the right side of the law.
  • Pick Your Business Structure: You’ve got options here, like running it solo (sole proprietorship) or setting it up as an LLC (Limited Liability Company). Each choice has its pros and cons, especially when it comes to taxes and protecting your personal assets from business risks.
  • Style Your Rental: Once the paperwork is in order, think about how to make your rental stand out. A well-styled space can attract more guests and possibly let you charge more. For tips on giving your rental that wow factor, check out “Transform Your Short-Term Rental with These Styling Tips from the Pros”.

Diving Deep into City-Specific Regulations

California is big, and rules for short-term rentals can change a lot from one city to another. Let’s look at a few major cities:

  • Los Angeles: The City of Angels has specific rules for who can rent out their place, how long you can rent it out, and what kinds of permits you need. They’re big on making sure rentals don’t take over neighborhoods and that everyone gets a fair shot at housing.
  • San Francisco: Here, the focus is on making sure rentals are safe and legal. You might need to register your rental, pay certain taxes, and follow rules about how your property can be used. San Francisco is also keen on protecting its housing stock, so there are limits on how many days a year you can rent out your place.
  • San Diego: Sunny San Diego has its own set of regulations, including registration requirements and rules aimed at keeping neighborhoods friendly and accessible for everyone, not just tourists. Like in other cities, you’ll need to pay attention to local taxes and permits.

Each city has its way of doing things, so it’s crucial to check the specific requirements where your property is located. This helps you run your rental smoothly and keep it profitable without running into legal issues.

Tax Obligations and Financial Considerations for Short-Term Rentals

When you run a short-term rental, dealing with taxes is part of the job. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Federal and State Taxes: Just like any income, the money you make from your rental needs to be reported on your taxes. At the state level, California has its own rules about how much tax you need to pay on rental income.
  • Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT): This is a tax that guests pay when they stay at your rental. The rate can vary depending on where your rental is located. It’s your job to collect this tax from your guests and then pay it to the right government office.
  • Tax Benefits and Deductions: There are some perks, too. You might be able to deduct costs like repairs, cleaning, and even some utilities from your taxes. Keeping track of all your expenses is key to taking advantage of these deductions.

Prioritizing Safety and Community Relations

Making sure your rental is safe and doesn’t upset the neighbors is super important. Here’s how:

  • Safety Regulations: Follow any rules about making your rental safe for guests. This can include things like smoke detectors, clear emergency exits, and making sure everything is up to code.
  • Keeping the Peace: Be a good neighbor by making sure your guests know about noise, parking, and trash rules. This helps keep the community happy and makes your rental more likely to be welcomed.
  • Staying on Good Terms: Following these rules isn’t just about avoiding complaints; it’s also about making sure your rental can keep operating in the long run. Keeping your rental safe and neighbor-friendly is a big part of running a successful business.

The Impact of Technology on Short-Term Rentals

Technology is changing the game for short-term rentals. With apps and software designed for property management, hosts can now handle bookings, communicate with guests, and manage their properties more easily than ever. Online platforms make listing and renting out your space simple, reaching guests worldwide. Here are a few ways technology can help:

  • Streamlining Operations: Use property management software to keep track of bookings, cleanings, and maintenance tasks. This saves you time and keeps your rental running smoothly.
  • Improving Guest Experiences: Features like smart locks and smart thermostats not only make your property stand out but also offer convenience and comfort to your guests.
  • Staying Compliant: Technology can also help you keep up with regulations by reminding you of important dates for permit renewals or tax payments.

Changes and Challenges in the Short-Term Rental Landscape

The rules for short-term rentals are always changing. New laws can affect how you run your rental, what taxes you need to pay, and even where you can list your property. It’s crucial to keep up with these changes to avoid any surprises. Staying informed about market trends can also give you an edge, helping you adjust your prices and offerings to match what guests are looking for.

Professional property management services, like those offered by Primior, can be a big help here. They know the ins and outs of the industry and can handle the complicated stuff, making sure your rental stands out and stays in compliance.


Running a short-term rental in California comes with its set of challenges, from following the right regulations to keeping guests happy. However, with the right approach and tools, you can turn these challenges into opportunities. 

By staying informed, leveraging technology, and possibly partnering with professional property managers, you can make your rental business a success. Remember, every challenge is a chance to improve and grow your rental into something great.



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