Airbnb and VRBO

The Intersection of Airbnb and Residential Leasing Laws

Airbnb, VRBO, and other short-term rental sites and apps have changed how residential renting occurs. While these platforms started as a way for homeowners to rent out their unused spaces for a little bit of extra money, they quickly became a business opportunity for those who could afford to buy residential real estate outright. 

It should come as no surprise, then, that laws have changed quickly throughout Maryland and the country as a whole. Landlords have had to limit how their tenants use their property, due to the issues caused by short-term tenants. Learn more about the interplay between short-term and long-term rental laws.

Key Differences Between Short-Term and Long-Term Rentals

While these rentals obviously differ in terms of duration, they also differ in purpose. Long-term rentals serve as someone’s home, allowing them to maintain the same rent and rental terms for at least six months. While six months is usually the minimum, most properties rent one year at a time. On the flip side, short-term rentals are not intended to become someone’s home. They are meant to be transitory residences for those who are looking for a more permanent solution, traveling, or attending work events in the area.

The Role of the Lease—and What the Lease Says About Short-Term Rentals

Lease agreements outline the obligations and rights of both landlords and tenants. The sudden popularity of short-term rentals has led to rushed changes in lease agreements for many landlords, who don’t want to see their property become a party hub for visitors who only stay a few days at a time. Many lease agreements now specifically address Airbnb, VRBO, and other short-term rental platforms. They usually explicitly forbid tenants from renting out their property on these sites or subletting to other people. However, there are some landlords who allow tenants to Airbnb their homes under certain conditions and with specific limitations.

What the Laws Say About Airbnb and Other Short-Term Rentals

Legislators have stepped in to address the ways in which short-term rentals have changed the rental landscape. This is largely in response to neighborhood and community complaints. When long-term tenants call a place home, they have a vested interest in maintaining strong relationships with others in the community and behaving accordingly. The same isn’t true for short-term tenants, who may rely on Airbnb properties for massive parties and other events that they cannot hold at hotels. Community members have complained about a lack of parking, no respect for noise ordinances, and general disturbances of the peace.

In Maryland, laws regarding short-term rentals vary between counties and sometimes even between cities. In Anne Arundel County, you can have up to two short-term rental properties. They must be registered with the county. A short-term rental is considered to be anything shorter than 120 days in duration. One exception: rentals in the city of Annapolis do not have to register with the county. Instead, they register with the city of Annapolis and pay special taxes for the privilege. On the flip side, those wanting to own short-term rentals in Prince George County have far more limitations. They only grant licenses to those renting out their permanent residence.

Protections Offered to Short-Term and Long-Term Tenants

One major difference between short-term and long-term rentals is the types of protections offered to tenants. Long-term tenants in Maryland enjoy robust tenant protections, but the same protections are not extended to short-term tenants. When a landlord wants to evict a long-term tenant who has established residency, the landlord must go through the eviction process, which can be both expensive and time-consuming. 

Short-term tenants do not establish residency and can be forced to leave without eviction proceedings. However, they are generally protected from discrimination and infringement upon their privacy. Many counties also have stringent safety requirements for short-term rentals. This is another area where the law is evolving; legislators are recognizing the need to protect short-term tenants while still allowing property owners the right to choose who utilizes their property.

The world of short-term rentals is constantly changing, and it’s likely that we’ll see the laws in this area continue to evolve over the coming years.