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White Haven, Pennsylvania Short-Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

White Haven, Pennsylvania

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Starting a Short-Term Rental Business in White Haven

White Haven, Pennsylvania has specific short-term rental regulations in place that hosts must follow. The Borough of White Haven defines a short-term rental as any rental less than 30 days. All short-term rentals require a permit and license from the borough.

In 2018, White Haven passed Ordinance 1 which specifically regulates "vacation home rentals". This ordinance requires hosts to register their short-term rental properties with the borough and obtain a license. There are also occupancy limits, parking requirements, and other rules that must be followed.

Some key requirements from the White Haven short-term rental ordinance include:

  • Obtaining a Vacation Home Rental License from the borough
  • Limiting occupancy to 2 persons per bedroom plus 4 additional persons per property
  • Providing off-street parking for all vehicles
  • Posting the license number and contact information for a designated agent available 24/7
  • Following all noise, nuisance, and other good neighbor policies

Failure to comply with the ordinance can result in fines or revocation of the short-term rental license. The full text of the ordinance can be found in the White Haven Borough Code.

It's important to note that in addition to borough rules, short-term rentals may also be subject to restrictions from homeowners associations (HOAs), condo boards, or tenant organizations. Always check your property's rules before listing it as a short-term rental.

When starting an Airbnb business in White Haven, make sure you understand and follow all the local regulations. Obtain the proper license, communicate the rules to your guests, be a good neighbor, and enjoy sharing your home with visitors to this Poconos community.

Short-Term Rental Licensing Requirement in White Haven

According to the Borough of White Haven's official website, short-term rental hosts are required to obtain a Vacation Home Rental License before operating. The key requirements for the license include:

  1. Submitting a completed Vacation Home Rental License application to the Borough
  2. Paying an annual license fee of $200
  3. Providing proof of insurance with a minimum of $500,000 in liability coverage
  4. Passing a safety inspection from the Borough's Code Enforcement Officer
  5. Designating a local contact person available 24/7 to respond to any issues
  6. Posting the license number and contact information prominently in the rental unit
  7. Limiting occupancy to 2 persons per bedroom plus 4 additional persons per property
  8. Providing off-street parking for all guest vehicles
  9. Following all noise, nuisance, and other good neighbor policies outlined in the ordinance

To apply for the license, hosts must submit the completed application, fee, and required documentation to:

  1. White Haven Borough
  2. 50 East Woodhaven Drive
  3. White Haven, PA 18661

The Borough typically processes applications within 2-4 weeks. Once the application is approved and the property passes inspection, the license will be issued.

Failure to obtain a Vacation Home Rental License before operating can result in fines of $500 per day. The Borough also has the authority to revoke licenses for properties that repeatedly violate the ordinance rules.

It's important for short-term rental hosts in White Haven to carefully review and follow all the requirements in the Borough's Vacation Home Rental ordinance. Doing so will help ensure a smooth licensing process and avoid any penalties for non-compliance.

Required Documents for White Haven Short-Term Rentals

According to the Borough of White Haven's Vacation Home Rental ordinance, the following documents are required when applying for a short-term rental license:

  1. Completed Vacation Home Rental License Application: This form collects basic information about the property, owner, and local contact person. It is available on the Borough's website or at the Borough office.
  2. Proof of Insurance: Hosts must provide a certificate of insurance showing a minimum of $500,000 in liability coverage for the rental property. This protects both the host and guests in case of accidents or injuries.
  3. Floor Plan: A detailed floor plan of the rental unit is required, showing the dimensions and layout of each room. This helps the Borough verify occupancy limits and ensure the property meets safety requirements.
  4. Site Plan: If the rental property is a single-family home, a site plan showing the location of the building, parking areas, and any outdoor amenities must be submitted. This ensures compliance with parking and other zoning requirements.
  5. Local Contact Person Designation Form: Hosts must designate a local contact person who is available 24/7 to respond to any issues or emergencies at the rental property. This form provides their contact information to the Borough.
  6. Signed Acknowledgement of Rules: The host must sign a statement acknowledging that they have read and understand all the rules and regulations in the Vacation Home Rental ordinance. This ensures the host is aware of their responsibilities and the potential penalties for non-compliance.

These documents, along with the $200 annual license fee, must be submitted to the White Haven Borough office for review and approval. The Borough will then schedule a safety inspection of the property before issuing the Vacation Home Rental License.

By requiring these documents, the Borough of White Haven aims to ensure that short-term rentals are safe, well-managed, and in compliance with all local regulations. This helps protect the quality of life for both residents and visitors in the community.

White Haven Short-Term Rental Taxes

As a short-term rental host in White Haven, Pennsylvania, there are several state and local taxes you need to collect from your guests and remit to the proper authorities:

Pennsylvania Hotel Occupancy Tax: This is a state-level tax of 6% on the rental price, including any cleaning fees, for stays less than 30 days. It is collected by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. You must register for a Sales, Use, and Hotel Occupancy Tax License with the state to collect and remit this tax.

Luzerne County Hotel Tax: White Haven is located in Luzerne County, which levies an additional 5% hotel tax on short-term rentals. This tax is collected by the county. As of 2019, Airbnb collects and remits this tax on behalf of its hosts in Luzerne County.

Local White Haven Taxes: Currently, the Borough of White Haven does not impose any additional taxes on short-term rentals beyond the state and county taxes. However, hosts should monitor any changes to local ordinances.

So in total, short-term rental guests in White Haven can expect to pay 11% in taxes - 6% to the state and 5% to Luzerne County. As a host, if you rent through Airbnb, the county tax will be collected and remitted for you. But you are still responsible for registering with the state and collecting the 6% state hotel occupancy tax.

Possible Deductions: Short-term rental hosts may be able to deduct certain expenses from their rental income for tax purposes. This can include things like:

  1. Mortgage interest
  2. Property taxes
  3. Rental unit utilities
  4. Cleaning and maintenance costs
  5. Supplies for guests
  6. Insurance
  7. Depreciation of the rental property

Consult with a tax professional to determine which deductions apply to your specific situation and how to properly claim them on your tax returns. Keeping detailed records of all your rental expenses is key.

By understanding the applicable taxes and potential deductions, you can ensure your White Haven short-term rental business stays compliant and maximizes its profitability.

Pennsylvania Wide Short-Term Rental Rules

Pennsylvania does not have comprehensive state-wide laws specifically regulating short-term rentals like Airbnb. Instead, the rules and regulations for vacation rentals are primarily determined at the county and city level. Each locality has its own unique set of requirements that hosts must follow, which can include permits, zoning restrictions, taxes, and safety regulations.

However, there are a few state-level rules related to taxation that apply to short-term rental operators across Pennsylvania:

  1. Hotel Occupancy Tax: Under Pennsylvania law, anyone who rents out their property for lodging for less than 30 days to the same person must collect and remit the state hotel occupancy tax of 6% to the Department of Revenue. This applies to rentals arranged through online platforms like Airbnb as well as other methods.
  2. Local Hotel Tax: The state also collects an additional 1% hotel tax for Allegheny and Philadelphia counties, which is then remitted to those counties. Some other counties may impose their own hotel taxes collected by the county treasurer.
  3. Tax Registration: Before collecting the hotel occupancy tax, short-term rental hosts must register with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue for a Sales, Use, and Hotel Occupancy Tax License. This is done through the state's online business tax registration system.

So while there is no overarching state-wide policy for short-term rentals in Pennsylvania, hosts still have tax obligations at the state level. It's critical for White Haven hosts to understand these requirements as well as research and comply with all the specific rules in their county and city. Failure to do so could result in fines, penalties, and legal issues.

As short-term rental regulations can change frequently, it's a good practice to regularly check with your local government offices or consult with a qualified legal professional to ensure you stay up-to-date and compliant. By taking the time to understand and follow the rules, you can run a successful and responsible short-term rental business in White Haven and across Pennsylvania.

Does White Haven Strictly Enforce STR Rules?

Based on discussions in real estate forums like Bigger Pockets and Reddit, White Haven appears to be relatively strict in enforcing its short-term rental regulations compared to some other Poconos towns. The borough requires all STR hosts to obtain a permit and follow occupancy limits, parking requirements, and other rules outlined in its 2018 Vacation Home Rental ordinance.

Most hosts and investors seem to agree that White Haven is not the most Airbnb-friendly town in the area. One Bigger Pockets user noted "White Haven has specific STR rules that are enforced. Make sure you understand them before buying there." Another mentioned "The borough is known to fine hosts operating without a permit."

While some towns in the Poconos region may turn a blind eye to unpermitted rentals, that does not appear to be the case in White Haven based on anecdotal reports. The general consensus is that the vast majority of STR hosts in White Haven do obtain permits and operate in compliance with the borough's rules, as the potential penalties for violations are not worth the risk.

That said, White Haven still has an active short-term rental market, with many successful Airbnb listings. Hosts who follow the permitting process and abide by the regulations are able to run profitable STR businesses in the town. But those considering buying an STR investment property in White Haven should be prepared to strictly comply with all local requirements.

So in summary, White Haven seems to fall on the stricter end of the spectrum in terms of STR enforcement in the Poconos. It's not the most Airbnb-friendly town, but hosts who play by the rules can still thrive in the market. Attempting to skirt the regulations is ill-advised, as the borough does actively monitor for and penalize violations.

How to Start a Short-Term Rental Business in White Haven

Research and understand White Haven's short-term rental regulations: Before getting started, thoroughly review the Borough of White Haven's Vacation Home Rental ordinance. Familiarize yourself with the licensing requirements, occupancy limits, parking rules, and other regulations. Consult with the Borough office or a local attorney if you have any questions. Stay up-to-date on any changes to the regulations by regularly checking the Borough's website and attending relevant council meetings.

Choose a suitable property: Look for a property that meets the Borough's zoning requirements for short-term rentals. Consider factors like location, amenities, and size to appeal to your target guests. If you already own a property, verify that it qualifies for a short-term rental license. Properties near local attractions, with desirable features like a hot tub or scenic views, tend to perform well as vacation rentals in White Haven.

Prepare your property for guests: Make any necessary repairs or upgrades to ensure your property is safe, clean, and comfortable for guests. Furnish and decorate the space to create an inviting atmosphere. Consider hiring a professional photographer to take high-quality listing photos. Focus on providing a memorable guest experience with thoughtful touches like local guidebooks, cozy bedding, and well-stocked essentials.

Obtain necessary licenses and permits: Apply for a Vacation Home Rental License with the Borough of White Haven. Submit the required documents, pay the annual fee, and schedule the property inspection. Obtain any additional licenses or permits required for your specific property. Begin the licensing process well in advance of your planned launch date to allow time for application review and inspections.

Set up your business and financials: Choose a business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC) and register your business with the state. Open a separate bank account for your rental business. Research and implement a pricing strategy that accounts for demand, seasonality, and expenses. Consult with a tax professional to understand your tax obligations and potential deductions for your short-term rental business.

Create a listing on popular vacation rental platforms: Set up an account on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. Craft an engaging listing description that highlights your property's unique features and location. Use high-quality photos and include all relevant information about amenities, house rules, and local attractions. Optimize your listing for search by using popular keywords and offering competitive rates and flexible cancellation policies.

Establish cleaning and maintenance procedures: Develop a thorough cleaning checklist and hire a reliable cleaning service to ensure your property is spotless between guests. Create a maintenance schedule to regularly address any repairs or upkeep needed. Consider using a keyless entry system to streamline the check-in process and allow for flexible arrival times.

Manage guest communication and reviews: Respond promptly and professionally to guest inquiries and booking requests. Provide clear check-in instructions and be available to answer any questions during their stay. Encourage satisfied guests to leave positive reviews and address any negative feedback promptly. Use a guest communication template to ensure consistent, efficient responses and set expectations for your guests.

Continuously improve and adapt: Monitor your booking performance and guest feedback regularly. Make adjustments to your listing, pricing, or amenities as needed to optimize your occupancy and revenue. Stay informed about industry trends and local regulations to stay competitive in the White Haven market. Consider partnering with local businesses or offering unique experiences to differentiate your rental and attract more guests.

By following these steps and continuously refining your approach, you can launch and grow a successful short-term rental business in White Haven. Remember to prioritize compliance with local regulations, deliver exceptional guest experiences, and adapt to the evolving market conditions.

Who to Contact in White Haven about Short-Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

If you have questions about short-term rental regulations or zoning in White Haven, the best place to start is by contacting the Borough office:

  1. White Haven Borough
  2. 312 Main Street
  3. White Haven, PA 18661
  4. Phone: (570) 443-9129
  5. Email: whborough@whboro.org
  6. Office Hours: Monday-Thursday 9am-11am, 1pm-3pm

For specific questions, you can reach out to:

  1. Borough Manager/Zoning/Code Enforcement: Linda Szoke, (570) 443-9129 (select option 1)
  2. Building Inspections/Permits: Dennis Peters, (570) 752-8044

The Borough's website also has a page dedicated to its ordinances, including the 2018 Vacation Home Rental ordinance that outlines the rules for short-term rentals: https://www.whitehavenborough.org/documents/

In addition to official Borough resources, connecting with other local short-term rental hosts can be valuable for navigating the regulations and running a successful Airbnb business. Some online communities to check out include:

Bigger Pockets Poconos Real Estate Investing Forum: https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/48/topics/912864-which-towns-in-the-poconos-pa-allow-short-term-rentals

This thread discusses which Poconos towns allow STRs and has input from local investors.

Pocono Vacation Home Sales Blog: https://poconovacationhomesales.com/blog/2022/03/01/str-scorecard-municipal-rules-on-short-term-rentals-in-the-poconos

This blog post provides an overview of STR rules in various Poconos municipalities, including White Haven.

Airbnb Poconos Mountains Host Forum on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1114838432200923

This private Facebook group is a place for Airbnb hosts in the Poconos to connect, share tips, and discuss local regulations.

By utilizing both official Borough resources and insights from experienced local hosts, you can ensure you have a thorough understanding of White Haven's short-term rental landscape. Building relationships with other STR operators in the area can also lead to ongoing support and camaraderie as you navigate this business venture.

What Do Airbnb Hosts in White Haven on Reddit and Bigger Pockets Think about Local Regulations?

Airbnb hosts in White Haven have shared their experiences and thoughts about local short-term rental regulations on various online forums. Here are some relevant discussions:

Reddit r/Airbnb - "Just started my 1st AirBnB and looking for feedback"

In this thread, a new Airbnb host in White Haven asks for feedback on their listing. One commenter notes that while people love to complain about short-term rentals in tourist areas like the Poconos, the regulations seem reasonable for such a popular destination.

Bigger Pockets - "Which towns in the Poconos, PA allow short term rentals?"

This forum post discusses which Poconos towns allow short-term rentals with permits. Several hosts chime in with their knowledge of specific township ordinances. While White Haven is not directly mentioned, the thread provides useful context on the varying regulations across the region.

Reddit r/Airbnb - "Found this cool old system at an Airbnb I'm staying at"

A guest staying at an Airbnb in White Haven shares a photo of a vintage stereo system they discovered in the rental. In the comments, the original poster mentions being careful to follow the host's house rules. This suggests that White Haven hosts do enforce their rules and expectations for guests.

Bigger Pockets - "Strategic Short Term Rental: Proximity to Poconos Attractions"

In this blog post, a realtor and short-term rental property manager discusses the importance of proximity to attractions for Poconos Airbnbs. They note that each township has different occupancy rules, with some being quite restrictive. While not specific to White Haven, it highlights the regulatory variations hosts must navigate in the area.

Reddit r/airbnb_hosts - "Lessons I learned fighting my HOA over my AirBnB"

A host shares their experience battling their homeowners association over their Airbnb. Although not located in White Haven, the post illustrates the additional layer of rules and restrictions that hosts in planned communities often face on top of municipal regulations.

Overall, these discussions suggest that Airbnb hosts in White Haven and the broader Poconos region are well aware of local short-term rental regulations. While opinions may vary, most hosts seem to accept and comply with the rules as a necessary part of doing business in a popular tourist destination. The key takeaway is that hosts must thoroughly research and understand the specific ordinances in their township to avoid issues with permits, occupancy limits, and other restrictions.

Disclaimer: While we here at BNBCalc strive to keep all of our city 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 city 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.