Legal Updates

Licensing Requirements for Airbnb Rentals

Airbnb is treated differently than standard property rentals in Philadelphia, PA.  Individuals renting property for less than ninety (90) days per year are subject to less stringent licensing requirements.  The Philadelphia City Planning Commission recently addressed this issue.  Section 14-604 of the Code is effectively an “Airbnb Ordinance.”  Per the Ordinance, short term rental properties are are exempt from Philadelphia licensing requirements.  For example Section 14-604 of the Code does not require an Airbnb lessor to obtain a separate commercial activity license for short-term rental activity. Full time landlords must obtain a commercial activity license from the Department of Licenses and Inspections, and pay a business tax. The City further summarizes the process for obtaining this license here.  Airbnb lessors do not have an obligation to provide renters with a Certificate of Rental Suitability or Partners for Good Housing Handbook.  There is also no explicit requirement the property be made lead safe under the Philadelphia Lead Disclosure Law.

Despite the relaxed controls on renting per Airbnb, the Philadelphia Code continues to require some licensing.  For example, and Airbnb host should have a Housing Inspection License.  While the License is not always required, it is necessary where the renter does not live at the residence.  Once a housing license is obtained your property may be scrutinized by Philadelphia Licenses and Inspections (“L & I”).  Keep this in mind before logging onto Airbnb to rent your property.  If a renter contacts Licenses and Inspections you may be subjected to a lawsuit for noncompliance with the Philadelphia Property Maintenance Code if outstanding housing violations exist.

Even if you are not an Airbnb renter, standard building and housing regulations apply to your property. Philadelphia has rules and regulations specifying minimum construction, design, and maintenance standards for buildings, including regulations on habitability, health, and safety. Certain regulations applicable to residential and non-residential uses may be relevant to your listing. Please see Title 4 of the Philadelphia Code. In addition, short-term rentals units must comply with certain requirements set forth in Section 14-604 of the Code. It is also important to understand and follow other contracts or rules, such as leases, condo board or co-op rules, HOA rules, or rules established by tenant organizations. Please read your lease agreement and check with your landlord if applicable.

While the City of Philadelphia has relaxed licensing requirements for Airbnb, some restrictions apply where the property is rented for greater than ninety (90) days and/or the renter does not live at the property.  Speak with a Philadelphia Landlord Tenant lawyer about the law as it relates to your case.  For a free consultation call Mark Copoulos at 267.535.9776.