Rules and Regulations for Vacation Rentals in Lake Tahoe

Jonathan Murray —  June 21, 2013

lake tahoe countiesWhether attracted by the skiing during the winter months, or by hiking and sandy beaches when the weather is warmer, Lake Tahoe is one of the top vacation destinations in the U.S.

That makes it a popular location for vacation home owners, too, and there are more than 4,000 rentals listed – on both sides of the California/Nevada border – through VRBO.com alone.

If you have, or are considering, a vacation rental in the Lake Tahoe area, what do you need to know? Most importantly, that it’s one lake with many different rules! Make sure you’re clear which jurisdiction your home is located in and which rules apply to your particular property.

Lake Tahoe is bordered by four counties:

In addition, there are several more urban areas:

Each of these regions has its own regulations around vacation rentals – as well as its own terminology. The region also has the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, a bi-state regional environmental planning agency, which guides development and planning around the lake.

While your best bet is to contact the local authorities directly, particularly if you’re in an unincorporated area along the lake, here’s a brief summary of what you might expect.

Placer County, California

Once you actually start your vacation rental business, you’ll need to contact Placer County within 30 days to get a Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate.

You’ll also need to collect a Transient Occupancy Tax for rentals of 30 days or less – but the amount depends on where your home is located:

  • If it’s within an area defined as the “Western Slope”, the rate is 8 percent.
  • If it’s within an area defined as “North Lake Tahoe”, the rate is 10 percent.

When tax time rolls around, the county provides a Transient Occupancy Tax Worksheet to help you figure out what you owe. You can get more detailed information from the Uniform Transient Occupancy Tax booklet; you should also know that the county refers to vacation rentals as a “tourist home or house”.

City of South Lake Tahoe, California

To get a Vacation Home Rental Permit in South Lake Tahoe, you – or a licensed property manager – must be based within a 30-mile radius of your property and available 24 hours a day to address any issues that may come up.

You’ll also need to provide a diagram or photo of your rental property that includes parking spaces.

A number of other rules are outlined on the city’s website, including a note that in addition to the permit, you’ll need to obtain a business license.

Town of Truckee, California

If your rental property is in the Truckee area, you need to register your property within 30 days after you start advertising your property and it is available for rent.

If you plan to rent your property for 31 nights or less, you will need to collect Transient Occupancy Taxes, a 10 percent tax on any rent you collect.

“Rent” is defined broadly to include cancellation deposits, standard cleaning fees, forfeited deposits or cancellation fees, and in-room services. However, it does not include anything that’s refundable, charges for equipment, or “non-rent items (i.e. valet service, parking fees, golf fees).”

Rental terms that are longer than 30 days are exempt from Transient Occupancy Taxes, but guests must sign a declaration form.

Douglas County, Nevada

There are no incorporated towns or cities within Douglas County, so regulation of vacation rentals near the lake is covered by the county.

Will you need a vacation rental permit? Contact the county’s planning department to confirm.

If your property does need a permit, you’ll need to complete the Vacation Home Rental Permit form, which will need to include:

For complete details about vacation rentals in Douglas County, contact the county office.

Washoe County, Nevada

Washoe County is a large district that stretches north to the Oregon border and includes the city of Reno.

The county has a transient lodging tax, but no information available about vacation rentals (what they call “transient lodging”) readily available on their website. Contact the county directly for more information.

* Note: Be sure to verify rules and regulations for your city or consult a lawyer before making any decisions about your short-term rental.

The information above is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. If you need legal advice, you should consult a licensed attorney in your area.

photo credit: JTahoe

Jonathan Murray

Jonathan Murray

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Before starting MyVR, he co-founded Lift Media (acquired), a lead generation company that worked with clients like American Express, Netflix, and Fandango. He started MyVR after being frustrated with setting up his own Sonoma cottage as a vacation rental. He studied engineering at Bucknell University and received his MBA from Stanford University.
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