Short Term Rentals

Did you know that there are more than 150 million total users on Airbnb? Every second, 6 guests check into an Airbnb listing. In the United States alone, there are 660,000 listings for this short-term rental service. It’s not surprising that Pennsylvania homeowners want to get in on this lucrative side hustle. However, The Keystone State has some specific rules about short-term rentals you need to be aware of.

2019 Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Ruling: Slice of Life, LLC v. Hamilton Township Zoning Board, et al.

In 2019, the Slice of Life company bought property with the intention of using it for short-term rentals. Owner, Val Kleyman, invested in it to allow others to use the home. However, residential zoning laws were brought into question.

Typically, residential zoning laws are enacted to protect those in the neighborhood from “increased noise and traffic, [and to] protect children living there and their ability to utilize quiet, open spaces for play, and to maintain ‘the residential character of the neighborhood.’” Kleyman was now utilizing the property as a short-term rental, which had zoning officials questioning if this was legal.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania unanimously decided that the Monroe County township’s zoning ordinance bars the short-term rental of homes in strictly residential districts. The Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court’s ruling and found in favor of Hamilton Township and its zoning board.

This is because the property was zoned as a “single dwelling unit.” This is defined as a single habitable living unit occupied by only one family while sufficiently stable and permanent, not just short-term.

So, can no one in Pennsylvania rent out their property for short-term rentals?

Pennsylvania Legislation on Short-Term Rentals

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, “Under Pennsylvania law, anyone who rents out their property to provide lodging for less than 30 days to the same person must collect and remit the Pennsylvania hotel occupancy tax to the Department of Revenue.”
The tax applies to hotels, room rentals, apartments, and houses arranged through online or third-party brokers.

In addition to the hotel occupancy tax, the department also collects taxes by county. This can be found at the Department of Community and Economic Development.

Other Terms to Be Aware Of

Utilizing short-term rental programs is not as simple as placing an ad online. There are certain measures you must abide by as a Pennsylvania resident.

  • Third-Party Broker: Some third-party brokers voluntarily collect and remit the Pennsylvania hotel occupancy tax on behalf of hosts. Users must review the terms to determine who is responsible for collecting and remitting the state and/or local tax.
  • Registering to Collect the Tax: However, before collecting the tax, you must be registered with the Department of Revenue for a Sales, Use, and Hotel Occupancy Tax License.
  • Remitting the Tax: After registering and obtaining a tax license and account number, taxpayers must file returns and remit the tax electronically.
  • Separate Income: It is important to note that hotel occupancy taxes are separate from income earned from renting short-term lodging.

Committing to short-term rentals as a business venture is something one should thoroughly review. It’s best to review your options with a real estate attorney before you sign any paperwork to ensure you are not violating any local statutes.

Contact the Short Term Rental Attorneys of Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano

If you are considering a short-term rental venture through a third party, you must make sure you are abiding by state and local laws. Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano can help you determine the right way to proceed. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

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