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Rancho Mirage bans short-term rentals

  • Oct 26, 2021 | Jennifer Sokolowsky

Rancho Mirage, California, city sign and palm trees

The City Council of Rancho Mirage, California, has banned all short-term rentals. The new rules prohibit rentals under 27 days.

The city will no longer issue new short-term rental permits once the new regulations go into effect, 30 days after their adoption October 21, 2021. Existing short-term rental permits scheduled to expire on January 1, 2022, will be extended to June 30, 2022.

The vote amended a previous law that allowed vacation rentals to operate within gated communities with homeowner association (HOA) approval.

According to City Manager Isaiah Hagerman, the ban is a response to resident complaints about neighborhood disruptions such as garbage, noise, and parking issues occurring at vacation rentals.

Short-term rentals have long been controversial in the region, with several different governments taking action to regulate them over the past several years.

In nearby San Bernardino County, the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance this summer that makes violations of the county’s short-term rental law criminal misdemeanors. The new measure raises fines from $100 to $1,000 for first-time citations, and up to $5,000 for a third citation.

The county received around 1,300 complaints and issued 51 citations related to short-term rentals in the first six months of 2021.

San Bernardino passed its short-term rental law, which applies to residential rentals and accessory dwelling units in mountain and desert zones, in 2019. Regulations include:

  • Vacation rental operators must have a county permit.
  • 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.
  • Short-term rentals are prohibited from hosting events such as weddings, retreats, or conferences without an event permit.
  • Operators must provide a 24-hour phone number for complaints and come to the property within an hour to resolve issues.

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

This past spring, La Quinta passed an indefinite stay on new short-term rental permits in residential neighborhoods. Vacation rental permits will continue to be issued for properties within Tourist Commercial or Village Commercial zones.

At the beginning of the year, La Quinta changed its vacation rental law to create three categories of vacation rentals that may operate in the city. It also raised annual fees for short-term rental permits to up to $1,250 per year.

Short-term rental operators in La Quinta are required to collect occupancy tax from guests and file monthly occupancy tax returns. Neither Airbnb nor Vrbo collect TOT in La Quinta. Hosts whose platforms don’t collect on their behalf are solely responsible for TOT compliance.

In Cathedral City, voters approved a referendum this past spring upholding a law that phases many short-term rentals out of the city by 2023. 

According to Ordinance 842, short-term rentals must be licensed and operators must include permit numbers on any advertising. Short-term rental guests must book stays of a minimum of three nights, and hosts are required to designate an agent who is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to complaints within 30 minutes.

The city will not issue any new short-term rental licenses that are valid beyond January 1, 2023. However, properties that offer home sharing or that belong to HOAs that allow short-term rentals will be allowed to operate beyond that date.

Cathedral City law includes harsh penalties for short-term rental violations. Hosts who operate without a permit can be fined up to $15,000 for multiple violations. Breaking rules related to noise, occupancy, trash, and parking can result in fines of up to $5,000. Individuals who make a false report to the city’s short-term rental complaint hotline may be fined up to $500.

Short-term rental operators in Cathedral City are also required to collect the city’s TOT from guests and file TOT returns with the city. Neither Airbnb nor Vrbo collect Cathedral City TOT from guests on behalf of hosts, so operators are responsible for TOT compliance themselves.

MyLodgeTax can help California short-term rental hosts automate lodging tax to streamline and simplify their lodging tax compliance. For more on lodging 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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