Legal Considerations for Vacation Rental Owners in Savannah

Legal Considerations for Vacation Rental Owners in Savannah

You can't just buy a property in Savannah, GA, and post it online as a vacation rental. This is a quick way to find yourself in hot water with the city officials and regulatory agencies. Approach operating a vacation rental like you would any other business.

Learn about these legal considerations for vacation rentals before you start renting your Savannah property.

Zoning and Local Ordinances

Savannah has strict rules about where you can and cannot operate a short-term vacation rental. For example, Tybee Island recently barred new rentals in specific residential districts.

There are also rules about how you can operate your rental. You cannot have more than two adults per bedroom. You cannot make drastic changes to the outside of the building. This is mainly because many of the vacation districts are also historical areas.

Working with local property managers can help you find property in the allowed districts. They can also help you identify ideal properties that comply with local regulations.


Savannah requires property owners to register for a short-term vacation rental (STVR) license. Without this license, you are not a legal vacation property. Do not try to operate your vacation rental illegally.

The city recently purchased new software to scour the internet and validate listings in Savannah. The goal is to catch and hold property owners accountable for licensing and tax collection compliance.

To obtain a license, you must first confirm that your property is in the allowed geographic areas. If it is, you must plan to rent the home for stints shorter than 30 days.

File your application and pay a non-refundable fee of $400. Then, you will pay a $250 annual renewal fee. You need a separate application for each property you own.

ADA Laws

Your short-term vacation rental may or may not be subject to ADA regulations. Do not assume that because it is a home, you are exempt. The ADA has a strict set of rental property laws defining the type of property subject to ADA compliance.

Generally, the more your rental looks like a hotel, motel, or inn, the more likely it will be subject to compliance. It is best to speak with a lawyer who can assess your specific property and provide advice.


Hotels, motels, and inns have charged vacation taxes for years when visiting Savannah. Recently, the city required short-term rentals to charge a lodging tax. This new excise tax is an additional $5 nightly fee.

If you operate a short-term vacation rental and do not charge your guests, you could find yourself on the hook for paying this tax. If you have a full calendar of bookings, this could result in hefty taxes.

Working with a property manager can help you establish consistent charging practices. That way, you don't accidentally forget a tax or fee.

Take Legal Considerations for Vacation Rentals Seriously

As you can see, there are several legal considerations for vacation rentals to address before you can start booking guests. At PMI Coastal GA, we work with clients to ensure their rentals are legally compliant. That way, they can focus on booking guests and profitability, not legal liability.

Contact our team today and avoid expensive regulatory fees and fines by ensuring your property is legally compliant.