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San Bernardino County drastically increases fines for short-term rental violations

  • Jul 6, 2021 | Jennifer Sokolowsky

San Bernardino, California

Vacation rental hosts who violate San Bernardino County’s short-term rental rules face steeper fines and criminal penalties under a new county ordinance that went into effect immediately.

Under the law unanimously approved by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, violations of the county’s short-term rental ordinance are now classified as criminal misdemeanors. The new law raises fines from $100 to $1,000 for first-time citations, and up to $5,000 for a third citation.

The "urgency ordinance" passed June 22 will expire after 45 days. The Board of Supervisors will consider an identical "regular ordinance" for adoption July 13. The law applies to unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County.

Over the first half of this year, the county received around 1,300 complaints and issued 51 citations related to short-term rentals. Issues included parties, noise violations, improper trash disposal attracting animals, parking, and more.

San Bernardino passed its short-term rental law in 2019. The ordinance applies to residential rentals and accessory dwelling units, in both mountain and desert areas of the county — but not to alternative vacation rentals such as trailers and yurts.

Among other rules:

  • Vacation rentals may not operate without a permit from the county.
  • Short-term rental units must be occupied by their owners, with an exception for properties on plots of two acres or more.
  • Advertisements for short-term rental properties in San Bernardino County must include a permit number.
  • County officials must inspect short-term rental properties as part of the permit application process.
  • Permits must be renewed and units reinspected every two years.
  • Vacation rentals are prohibited from hosting events such as weddings, retreats, or conferences without an event permit.
  • Owner/manager must provide a 24-hour phone number for complaints and arrive at the property within an hour to resolve issues.
  • Vacation rentals must comply with county fire, building, zoning, and health and safety codes.

Under the ordinance, short-term rental operators must also apply for a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) license. Hosting platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo are required by the law to collect TOT on behalf of hosts — but if they don’t, hosts are still solely responsible for collecting taxes from guests and filing occupancy tax returns with county officials.

Currently, Airbnb collects TOT for hosts in San Bernardino County, while Vrbo does not.

MyLodgeTax can help San Bernardino County short-term rental operators comply with TOT registration, collection, and filing requirements. For more on occupancy taxes in California, see our state Lodging 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.
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