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State Regulation

Iowa, a state known for its expansive cornfields and warm Midwestern hospitality, has in recent years become an increasingly popular destination for travelers seeking a blend of urban and rural experiences. The state's attraction lies in its mix of small-town charm and vibrant cities like Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City, each offering unique cultural, historical, and recreational activities.

The growth of the short-term rental market in Iowa also reflects a broader national trend, as travelers increasingly seek out unique and personalized lodging experiences. However, this surge has also prompted discussions about regulations and the impact on local communities. Overall, short-term rentals in Iowa present an interesting case study in the balance between fostering tourism and maintaining the character and needs of local neighborhoods.

Is there a statewide definition of STR?

Iowa does not have a statewide definition for short-term rentals (STRs). Instead, the regulations and definitions of STRs vary across different localities within the state. For example, some cities like Davenport define STRs as lodging offered for periods of less than 30 consecutive days. This lack of a statewide standard means that the rules and regulations regarding STRs are largely determined by local city and county ordinances in Iowa.

statewide registration requirement
Statewide Registration Requirement

In Iowa, the regulations for short-term rentals (STRs) are not governed by a uniform statewide policy but rather depend on local city and county ordinances. This means that the rules can vary significantly from one area to another within the state.

For instance, in Des Moines, one of Iowa's major cities, there are specific regulations that short-term rental hosts need to comply with. Hosts in Des Moines are required to secure liability insurance with a minimum coverage of $500,000. This insurance is meant to cover bodily injury and property damage arising from the short-term rental use. Additionally, Des Moines has updated its licensing and registration fees, permits, zoning, and has set standards for the maintenance and safety of properties used for short-term rentals. These include keeping walkways and similar areas in good repair, maintaining handrails and guards, ensuring premises are free from weeds and rodent infestations, and more.

It's also important for hosts to be aware that they might need to obtain local permits or licenses to legally operate STRs in many municipalities in Iowa. Moreover, hosts must register with the Iowa Department of Revenue to collect and remit applicable state and local taxes on rentals.

What is the length of stay of STR in the state?

In Iowa, the regulations regarding the length of stay for short-term rentals largely depend on local city and county ordinances, as the state itself doesn't provide a centralized standard for this. For instance, some cities like Davenport define short-term rentals as lodging options offered for periods shorter than 30 consecutive days. Generally, many Iowa cities categorize short-term rentals under this 30-day threshold.

Statewide Tax Requirement

A 5% hotel tax is imposed on the total amount of short-term rental transactions, which includes both the rental fee and any additional charges such as cleaning or service fees. Hosts are responsible for collecting this tax at the time of booking. The collected tax must be reported and remitted to the state, with the frequency of reporting being either monthly or semi-annually.

It's important for rental operators to register with the state tax authorities before collecting these taxes. To ensure compliance with these tax requirements, it's advisable for hosts to stay informed about the current tax rates and regulations specific to their rental's location, as these can frequently change.

Access the latest compliance requirement for your local jurisdictions below
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Lodge compliance is not a licensed tax or financial advisor. Therefore nothing in the above article should be construed as tax, legal, or financial advice. Contact your local tax office for information regarding your personal circumstance.

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