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Maricopa County, Arizona Short-Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Maricopa County, Arizona

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Starting a Short-Term Rental Business in Maricopa County

If you're looking to start a short-term rental business in Maricopa County, Arizona, there are several regulations you need to be aware of. Short-term rentals, such as those listed on Airbnb and VRBO, have become increasingly popular in recent years. However, cities and towns in Maricopa County have started to adopt rules to better regulate these rentals and address concerns from residents.

Under current Arizona state law (House Bill 2672), cities and counties are prohibited from restricting or regulating short-term rentals based on their classification, use, or occupancy. However, in 2022, the Arizona Legislature passed Senate Bill 1168 which authorized cities and towns to create a limited permit/license process to further regulate short-term rentals.

As of November 2023, the City of Phoenix has a new short-term rental ordinance that requires owners to:

  • Register with the Maricopa County Assessor's Office
  • Obtain a permit from the city for each short-term rental property
  • Notify neighbors of their intent to operate a short-term rental
  • Require criminal background checks on guests
  • Have liability insurance
  • Display the city permit number on all advertisements for the rental

There is an initial and renewal fee of $250 for each short-term rental permit in Phoenix. Violations of the ordinance can result in civil penalties and potentially having the permit suspended for repeat offenses.

The City of Scottsdale has also adopted new short-term rental regulations that go into effect in January 2023. Requirements include obtaining a Scottsdale license for each property, conducting background checks on guests, and having liability insurance.

To register your short-term rental, you need to visit the Maricopa County Assessor's website and search for your property. Once you find the parcel, there will be an option to "Register Rental" where you can create an account and go through the registration process. Registered rentals will have a "Parcel Type" of "Residential/Rental" on the Assessor's site.

When it comes to zoning, you can look up your property on the Maricopa County Assessor's website to determine if it is zoned for single-family residential (R-1) or multifamily (R-3). Some jurisdictions may have additional zoning restrictions on short-term rentals.

If you live in an HOA community, be aware that the HOA may be able to amend their CC&Rs to set minimum lease terms (e.g. 30 days or 6 months) that would prohibit short-term rentals. However, these amendments likely cannot be applied retroactively to current owners until the property is sold.

The order for registering a short-term rental in Arizona is:

  1. Apply for a Transaction Privilege (Sales) Tax License with the state
  2. Register the short-term rental with Maricopa County
  3. Obtain any required city permit or license

In summary, while Arizona state law limits how much cities and counties can regulate short-term rentals, places like Phoenix and Scottsdale have started to adopt ordinances with more oversight of these properties. Make sure you understand all state, county, and city requirements before starting a short-term rental business in Maricopa County.

Short-Term Rental Licensing Requirements in Maricopa County

While Maricopa County itself does not issue a specific short-term rental license or require a general business license for unincorporated areas, there are still some important requirements to be aware of at the county level.

All residential rental properties in Maricopa County, including short-term rentals, must be registered with the Maricopa County Assessor's Office. The registration process is completed online through the Assessor's website.

To register your short-term rental, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Maricopa County Assessor's website (mcassessor.maricopa.gov)
  2. Search for your property using the address or parcel number
  3. Once you locate the property, there will be an option to "Register Rental"
  4. Create an account and complete the online registration form

There are no mentioned fees for registering a rental property with Maricopa County. The Assessor's website also does not provide a specific timeline for how long the registration process typically takes.

It's important to note that while there are no explicit fines or penalties listed for unregistered short-term rentals at the county level, failing to register your rental property with the Assessor's Office may result in issues down the line.

Keep in mind that individual cities and towns within Maricopa County, such as Phoenix and Scottsdale, have their own short-term rental regulations and licensing requirements. Be sure to check with your local jurisdiction for any additional permits or licenses you may need on top of registering with the county.

Required Documents for Maricopa County Short-Term Rentals

To operate a short-term rental in Maricopa County, owners need to provide several key documents to ensure compliance with state and local regulations. Here are the main required documents:

Maricopa County Assessor's Office Rental Registration: All residential rental properties in Maricopa County, including short-term rentals, must be registered with the Maricopa County Assessor's Office per Arizona law (A.R.S. § 33-1902). This is done through an online registration process on the Assessor's website. The purpose is to maintain an accurate record of rental properties for enforcement of laws related to property maintenance and safety.

Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT) License: Short-term rental owners must obtain a TPT license from the Arizona Department of Revenue. This allows the state and cities to collect applicable taxes on short-term rental income. The TPT license number is required when applying for city-specific permits.

City/Town Short-Term Rental Permit or License: Many cities within Maricopa County, such as Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Cave Creek, require a separate short-term rental permit or license for each property. These applications typically require proof of the Maricopa County rental registration, TPT license, liability insurance (usually a minimum of $500,000 in coverage), and other information about the property owner and local contacts. Application fees range from $50-$250.

Neighbor Notification Proof: Some cities, like Phoenix and Cave Creek, require short-term rental owners to notify neighbors of their intent to operate a short-term rental. Proof of this notification, such as a signed statement, may need to be submitted with the city permit application.

Site Plan or Map: Cities like Phoenix require a description or map showing the location of safety equipment like smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc. to be submitted with the permit application.

Owner Attestation Forms: Certain cities have additional forms the owner must sign attesting they will follow all applicable laws and ordinances related to operating a short-term rental.

The specific requirements vary by city, so it's important to check the regulations for your property's location. But in general, the key documents needed are proof of county registration, tax licensing, liability insurance, and city-specific permits or licenses. These allow the county and cities to monitor short-term rental activity, collect required taxes, and enforce health and safety standards.

Maricopa County Short-Term Rental Taxes

Short-term rentals in Maricopa County are subject to several types of taxes that owners need to be aware of:

State Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT): The state of Arizona imposes a 5.5% TPT on the gross receipts of short-term lodging businesses for stays of 29 nights or less. This tax is remitted to the Arizona Department of Revenue.

County Excise Tax: Maricopa County levies a transient lodging excise tax that varies by location but is typically between 0.28% to 6.5% of the listing price (including cleaning fees) for stays of 29 nights or less. This tax is also remitted to the state.

City Transaction Privilege Tax: Cities within Maricopa County impose their own TPT on short-term lodging, typically between 1.5% to 6% of the gross receipts. For example, the City of Phoenix has a 2.3% TPT while Scottsdale's rate is 1.75%. This tax is paid to the state along with the state and county taxes.

City Transient Occupancy Taxes: Some cities charge additional transient occupancy taxes on short-term rentals, often called a Bed Tax or Hotel/Motel Tax. For instance, Phoenix and Scottsdale charge an additional 5% transient occupancy tax. These are usually paid to the state as well.

So in total, short-term rental owners in Maricopa County can expect to pay anywhere from 7% to over 17% in combined taxes on their gross rental income, depending on the exact location of the property. It's important to note that short-term rental marketplaces like Airbnb and Vrbo are required to collect and remit all of these taxes on behalf of their hosts in Arizona.

As for potential write-offs and deductions, short-term rental owners can generally deduct expenses that are ordinary and necessary for running the business. This may include:

  1. Cleaning and maintenance costs
  2. Utility payments
  3. Insurance premiums
  4. Rental supplies
  5. Property management fees
  6. Repairs
  7. Depreciation of assets

However, certain fees collected from guests like refundable security deposits are not taxable and should not be included in gross receipts. Hosts should consult with a tax professional to determine their allowable deductions and make sure they are in full compliance with all state, county, and city tax requirements for short-term rentals.

Arizona Wide Short-Term Rental Rules

Arizona has some of the most lenient state-wide short-term rental regulations in the country. In 2016, the Arizona legislature passed SB 1350 which prohibited cities and counties from banning or restricting short-term rentals. This law made it easy for property owners to operate vacation rentals throughout the state.

However, in 2022, the legislature passed SB 1168 which allows cities and towns to impose more regulations on short-term rentals to address issues like noise, parking, and safety. The law still prevents municipalities from prohibiting short-term rentals altogether or restricting their use based on classification or occupancy.

Under current state law, here are the key requirements that affect Maricopa County short-term rental hosts:

  1. Registration: Short-term rental owners must register with the Maricopa County Assessor's Office and the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) for tax purposes. There is no state-wide short-term rental permit or license.
  2. Taxes: Hosts must obtain a transaction privilege tax (TPT) license from ADOR and collect state, county, and city taxes which vary by location. As of 2023, the combined tax rate for short-term rentals in Phoenix is 12.57%.
  3. Zoning: The property must comply with applicable residential zoning requirements. Cities cannot prohibit short-term rentals in zones where hotels are allowed.
  4. Occupancy Limits: Cities may establish occupancy limits based on the number of bedrooms or total square footage to prevent overcrowding.
  5. Parking: Municipalities can create parking requirements to minimize street congestion from guest vehicles.
  6. Insurance: SB 1168 allows cities to require short-term rental owners to maintain at least $500,000 in liability insurance or use a platform like Airbnb that provides equal or greater coverage.
  7. Contact Information: Hosts must provide contact information for someone who can respond to complaints at any time. Some cities require emergency contact info to be posted conspicuously on the property.
  8. Neighbor Notification: Some municipalities mandate that short-term rental owners notify adjacent neighbors of their rental property status and provide contact information.
  9. Non-Residential Use: Using the property for non-residential purposes like weddings, retail, restaurants, or large events that would normally require a permit is prohibited.

While Arizona is still very welcoming to short-term rentals compared to other states, SB 1168 has given cities and towns more tools to regulate problem properties. Maricopa County hosts should check their local city ordinances for additional rules on top of these state-wide requirements. Failure to comply can result in fines, suspensions, and restrictions on the ability to operate.

Does Maricopa County Strictly Enforce STR Rules?

Based on discussions from real estate investing forums like BiggerPockets and Reddit, Maricopa County and the state of Arizona in general are considered very friendly to short-term rentals compared to other areas of the country. Arizona state law prohibits cities and counties from banning or overly restricting short-term rentals.

However, in 2022 the state legislature passed a bill (SB 1168) allowing cities to impose some limited regulations on short-term rentals to address issues like noise, parking, and safety. Cities within Maricopa County, like Scottsdale and Phoenix, have started to adopt ordinances requiring permits, neighbor notification, occupancy limits, and liability insurance for short-term rentals.

Despite these new rules, many hosts continue to operate short-term rentals in Maricopa County, sometimes skirting the regulations. Enforcement seems to be complaint-driven and spotty so far. On the Scottsdale subreddit, residents frequently complain about problem short-term rental properties with loud parties, excess cars, and overflowing trash. They report that the city is slow to crack down on violators.

The consensus on real estate forums is that while Maricopa County cities are starting to pass ordinances to get a handle on short-term rentals, the county is still one of the most Airbnb-friendly areas in the nation due to the state law. Investors say Arizona's welcoming stance is one reason the Phoenix area has so many short-term rental listings.

However, many think some hosts have gotten overly aggressive, buying up too many properties in certain neighborhoods. Scottsdale in particular has a very high density of short-term rentals in some areas. With the market shifting, those overleveraged hosts could be in for a reckoning if bookings drop and they can't cover their carrying costs.

So in summary, while Maricopa County cities are putting more rules in place, the state's pro-STR law means the county is still a very popular and relatively easy place to operate a short-term rental compared to most other major metros. Enforcement of the new ordinances seems to be ramping up slowly. But hosts should make sure they understand and follow all the new requirements to avoid neighbor complaints and potential fines.

How to Start a Short-Term Rental Business in Maricopa County

If you're looking to start a short-term rental business in Maricopa County, here are the key steps to follow:

Register your property with the Maricopa County Assessor's Office: All residential rental properties in the county, including short-term rentals, must be registered with the Assessor per Arizona law. You can do this online through the Assessor's website by searching for your property and selecting the option to "Register Rental". There is no fee for registering. Failing to properly register could result in fines and issues down the line.

Obtain a Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT) License from the Arizona Department of Revenue: You'll need this license to collect and remit the required state, county and city taxes on your short-term rental income. Apply on the AZTaxes.gov site and choose the "Transient Lodging" business code. The TPT license number must be displayed on any advertisements for your rental. Even if you use a platform like Airbnb that collects taxes for you, you still need to obtain your own TPT license.

Obtain any required city permit or license: Many cities in Maricopa County, including Phoenix and Scottsdale, have their own permit or license process for short-term rentals. For example, in Phoenix you'll need to submit an application with proof of your TPT license, liability insurance, county assessor registration, and pay a $250 fee. Check your city's specific requirements, as they can vary. Allow up to 30 days for approval.

Prepare your property for guests: Make sure your rental is safe, clean, and well-maintained. Equip it with the required amenities, safety equipment like smoke detectors, and any extras that will make it stand out. Consider hiring a professional photographer to take high-quality listing photos. Write an accurate, compelling description highlighting your rental's best features.

Create your rental listing: List your property on popular short-term rental sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. Be sure to include the permit/license number on your listing. Set competitive rates based on comparable rentals in your area. Use a dynamic pricing tool to automatically adjust rates based on demand. Establish your house rules and booking policies.

Manage your bookings and guests: Respond promptly to inquiries and booking requests. Provide clear check-in instructions and access details. Be available to answer guest questions and resolve any issues that arise during their stay. Arrange for regular cleaning and maintenance between bookings. Consider hiring a co-host or property manager if you need help.

Some additional tips for success:

  1. Provide exceptional customer service to earn 5-star reviews and repeat guests. Go above and beyond with small touches like a welcome basket or personalized recommendations.
  2. Stay up-to-date on evolving short-term rental regulations at the state, county, and city level. Join local host clubs or forums to connect with other operators.
  3. Use rental data analytics to track your performance and identify opportunities for improvement. Continuously work to optimize your listing, pricing, and operations.
  4. Reinvest a portion of your profits into upgrades and amenities that add value for guests. This can help you stay competitive and maximize your rental income over time.

Starting a short-term rental business in Maricopa County requires carefully following the applicable registration, licensing, and tax requirements at the county and city level. By properly setting up your rental and providing an excellent guest experience, you can build a successful and profitable operation. But make sure to stay informed of new regulations that may impact your business.

Who to Contact in Maricopa County about Short-Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

If you have questions about registering your short-term rental or the applicable regulations in Maricopa County, here are the key contacts:

Maricopa County Assessor's Office

  1. Website: mcassessor.maricopa.gov
  2. Phone: 602-506-3406
  3. Email: asr.pa@maricopa.gov
  4. Address: 301 W. Jefferson, Phoenix, AZ 85003

Contact the Assessor's Office for questions about registering your short-term rental property with the county as required by Arizona law. You can register online through their website.

Maricopa County Planning & Development Department

  1. Website: maricopa.gov/797/Planning-Development
  2. Phone: 602-506-3301
  3. Online Inquiry Form: apps.pnd.maricopa.gov/contact/

The Planning & Development Department handles zoning, building permits, and code compliance for properties in unincorporated Maricopa County. Contact them to verify your property is zoned for short-term rental use and complies with applicable building/safety codes.

In addition to these county resources, you'll also want to check with your specific city for their short-term rental requirements. For example:

  1. City of Phoenix: phoenix.gov/licenses/license-index/short-term-rental-license
  2. City of Scottsdale: scottsdaleaz.gov/codes/short-term-rentals

There are also helpful online communities where you can connect with other short-term rental hosts in Maricopa County to ask questions and share advice:

  • BiggerPockets Arizona Short-Term Rental Forum: biggerpockets.com/forums/530-arizona-short-term-vacation-rentals
  • r/AirBnB Phoenix Subreddit: reddit.com/r/AirBnB/search?q=Phoenix&restrict_sr=1

On these forums, experienced hosts discuss topics like registering rentals, dealing with local regulations, recommended cleaners, and property managers, and general tips for operating in the Phoenix area. BiggerPockets even has a "Short-Term Rental Bootcamp" video series for new investors.

By utilizing these county, city and community resources, you can ensure your Maricopa County short-term rental is properly registered and in compliance with all applicable zoning regulations and ordinances. The key is to be proactive in understanding and following the rules from the start.

What Do Airbnb Hosts in Maricopa County on Reddit and Bigger Pockets Think about Local Regulations?

Hosts in Maricopa County have been actively discussing the evolving short-term rental regulations on online forums. Here's a snapshot of what they're saying:

On the r/airbnb_hosts subreddit, a former host shared their experience shutting down a 10-unit Airbnb in Maricopa County due to regulation changes. They said, "I owned and operated a 10-unit building that made 6 figures in 6 months but had to shut down due to regulation changes..." This highlights the impact that new city ordinances are having on some larger-scale operators.

Another Redditor asked about using "no rental restrictions" on Zillow listings to indicate STR-friendly properties in Maricopa County. Commenters advised that you can't rely solely on that and need to verify short-term rental allowance with the local municipality. One noted that even HOAs that allow rentals may have minimum lease terms that effectively prohibit STRs.

On the BiggerPockets Arizona Short-Term Rental Forum, a new investor asked about the process of registering their Maricopa County Airbnb properly with the state, county and city. Experienced hosts chimed in with step-by-step guidance on obtaining a TPT license, registering with the county assessor, and checking city-specific permit requirements.

Another BiggerPockets user asked about the Arizona residential rental property tax of about 2% of gross income. Respondents clarified that you must register rental properties with Maricopa County or face potential fines for non-compliance. As one host put it, "if they find out you have a rental that is not registered as a rental the fines are pretty hefty."

Finally, a California-based investor who bought their first rental property in Peoria sought input on Maricopa County regulations. The community provided details on TPT licensing, county rental registration, and the requirement to designate an Arizona-based "statutory agent" to receive official notices about the property.

Overall, the sentiment among Maricopa County hosts on these forums is that the regulatory landscape is getting more complex, with new city ordinances layering on top of state and county requirements. While some see the changes as burdensome, most agree that properly registering your rental and complying with local rules is essential to avoid fines and maintain good standing as a short-term rental operator in the Phoenix area.

Disclaimer: While we here at BNBCalc strive to keep all of our regulation guides updated and accurate with all the latest local laws, we still do not suggest using them as your sole or primary source for local regulations. We also do not recommend you rely on the third-party sources we link to or reference, and we are not responsible for any of the information on these third-party sites. These guides are for entertainment purposes only and only provide basic information and should not be considered as legal advice.

We highly recommend directly contacting the responsible parties for each and hearing what their officials have to say. Ultimately, it's your responsibility as an investor to ensure you fully comply with the local laws, and it's best to speak with professionals before making an investment decision.

⚡️
Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.