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Baltimore short-term rental hosts must be licensed by March 31

  • Feb 4, 2020 | Jennifer Sokolowsky

Baltimore harbor

Baltimore’s new short-term rental law went into effect December 31 — but short-term rental operators still have time to become compliant with the new rules.

The law, passed in 2018, limits new short-term rentals to primary residences and requires vacation rental hosts to be licensed. Short-term rental licenses cost $200 and can be renewed every two years.

Current operators had until the end of 2019 to apply for primary residence licenses. However, officials haven’t received as many vacation rental license applications as they’d estimated. The city’s Department of Housing and Community Development had issued only 125 licenses shortly before the end of 2019. In 2018, there were more than 1,200 active hosts in Baltimore with approximately 2,100 total vacation rental units, according to the city’s finance department.

Short-term rentals that were operating outside of a primary residence prior to December 31, 2018, have an extended deadline to apply for licenses. Hosts who were operating this type of vacation rental before that date are allowed to operate one such rental along with a short-term rental at their primary residence.

In order to operate an unhosted rental, hosts must have obtained ownership of their rental property before December 31, 2018, and had at least one paid booking before that date.

The deadline to apply for an unhosted rental license is March 31. After that, the city will only issue licenses for hosted rentals.

Baltimore’s law requires hosts to include their city short-term license number on any advertisement or listing. They must also designate an emergency contact who lives within 15 miles of the rental and provide guests with this person’s contact information.

Under the law, online short-term rental platforms must make sure short-term rentals have valid licenses before advertising them, and they must include rentals’ license numbers in listings.

Short-term rental operators are also required to collect city transient occupancy tax and state lodging tax from their guests. They must register with both Baltimore and Maryland tax authorities and file tax returns with each agency.

Airbnb and HomeAway/Vrbo collect both state and city taxes on behalf of hosts in Baltimore. If these taxes aren’t collected for you, you’re responsible for registering with tax authorities, collecting taxes from guests, and remitting taxes to the state and city.

MyLodgeTax can help Baltimore short-term hosts automate lodging tax to simplify lodging tax compliance, including tax registration and filing at the city and state level. For more on vacation rental lodging taxes in Maryland, see our state Vacation Rental Tax Guide. If you have tax questions related to vacation rental properties, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you with answers.    


Lodging tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Avalara Author
Jennifer Sokolowsky
Avalara Author Jennifer Sokolowsky
Jennifer Sokolowsky writes about tax, legal, and tech topics. She has an extensive international background in journalism and marketing, including work with The Seattle Times, The Prague Post, Avvo, and Marriott.