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Marin County suspends new short-term rentals in western areas

  • Jun 14, 2022 | Jennifer Sokolowsky

Marin County

Marin County, California, has issued a moratorium on new vacation rentals in West Marin communities, effective May 25. The moratorium is in effect for 45 days, but could be extended for up to two years.

The pause on new short-term rentals applies to the West Marin Transient Occupancy Tax Area, which covers unincorporated areas from Dillon Beach/Tomales to the north, San Geronimo Valley and Nicasio in central Marin, and the communities of Muir Beach, Stinson Beach, and Bolinas to the south.

The county’s short-term rental ordinance requires operators in unincorporated areas to obtain a business license, designate a local contact person who can be available in case of any issues, and notify neighbors about the vacation rental.

Marin County hosts must also apply for a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) certificate, collect transient occupancy tax from guests, and file TOT returns. Airbnb and Vrbo automatically collect TOT on behalf of hosts in unincorporated Marin County for bookings made through their sites.

Meanwhile, the Town Council of Fairfax, located within Marin County, has approved new short-term regulations on first reading. Under the law, vacation rental hosts in the incorporated town would have to obtain a business license, collect the town’s TOT, and follow safety and parking rules. Hosts would only be allowed to operate vacation rentals in their primary residence. Fairfax plans to hire Host Compliance, a third-party firm, to aid in tracking short-term rental properties and enforcing regulations. The council must approve the ordinance in a second reading, and it would go into effect 30 days after approval.

The Marin County action comes on the heels of Sonoma County’s 45-day moratorium on new short-term rental permits in unincorporated areas. The moratorium, which went into effect March 17 and ends in late June, applies to properties in districts 1, 4, and 5, which include Sonoma Valley as well as western and northern areas of the county. The Sonoma moratorium doesn’t apply to Districts 2 and 3, hosted rentals, or properties on the coast under the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission.

On August 2, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will vote on proposed new rules that would institute a new licensing system, limit the percentage of vacation rentals in certain communities, ban short-term rentals altogether in some areas, and create a 24/7 vacation rental complaint hotline.

Sonoma operators must also collect transient occupancy tax (TOT) from guests and file TOT returns with the county. Airbnb automatically collects TOT on behalf of hosts in unincorporated Sonoma County. Operators are responsible for collecting and filing any lodging taxes Airbnb doesn’t collect directly for them, as well as taxes on bookings made through other platforms, such as Vrbo.

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