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Panama City Beach STR hosts have until February 1 to register for inspections

  • Jan 30, 2024 | Jennifer Sokolowsky

Home inspector makes notes on clipboard while inspecting a home.

Short-term rental (STR) operators in Panama City Beach have until February 1 to register for annual inspections. The deadline was set in September when the City Council approved an ordinance making changes to rules governing STRs.

Under the new law, Panama City Beach Fire Rescue will carry out the mandatory inspections every year to make sure STR properties are up to code. Bay County passed a similar requirement in 2023, and the city wanted to create a level playing field with aligned regulations.

Inspectors will check to make sure that STRs have safety measures including smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and posted information on evacuation routes and the beach flag system.

The new regulations also require STR operators to obtain a Vacation Rental Certificate, which must be included in any advertisements or listings and must be renewed every year. The law also sets occupancy limits of one person per 150 square feet of habitable space.

City sets stricter penalties for violations

STR operators who break the rules can be fined $500 for a first offense, $1,000 for a second offense, and $1,000 for a third offense, in addition to having their STR license revoked. The ordinance passed in September eliminated warnings for violations, allowing the city to levy fines on first offenses.

Florida state law doesn’t allow local governments to ban short-term rentals entirely or regulate the length of stays or their frequency, but local governments may pass rules to control negative effects of vacation rentals.

Panama City Beach STRs must also be registered with the city’s Tourist Development Council (TDC), and Florida requires all vacation rentals to be licensed through the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). DBPR does not regulate hosted rentals, where the host remains on-site during guests’ stays, so hosts who rent out rooms rather than a whole unit do not need to be licensed by the state.

Stay compliant with Florida lodging taxes

Florida vacation rental operators are required to obtain a state tax certificate, collect state and lodging taxes from guests, and file lodging tax returns with the state. Panama City Beach vacation rental hosts must also register with Bay County and collect County Tourist Development Tax.

STR marketplaces Airbnb and Vrbo automatically collect and remit state lodging taxes on behalf of their Florida hosts, but these marketplaces do not collect STR taxes for listings in Bay County.

MyLodgeTax can help vacation rental hosts automate and simplify lodging tax compliance on the local and state level, including tax registration and filing. For more on vacation rental lodging taxes in Florida, 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.
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Learn more about FL lodging tax rules