City of Marathon, FL, Vacation Rental Rules

City of Marathon, FL, Vacation Rental Rules

Marathon, FL, nestled in the heart of the Florida Keys, is a popular destination for vacationers seeking sun, sand, and sea. The city has established specific rules and regulations for vacation rentals to ensure the comfort and safety of both residents and visitors. Understanding these regulations is crucial for property owners and guests alike.

City of Marathon, FL, Vacation Rental Rules

How to Apply for a Vacation Rental License in Marathon, FL

Marathon, FL, offers a streamlined process for applying for a vacation rental license, ensuring Airbnb hosts can efficiently manage their vacation rentals while adhering to city regulations. This section provides detailed instructions on how to apply, including the necessary documentation and steps to follow.

Explore Guide for Airbnb Hosts and Investors in Marathon, Florida Keys.

Licensing Application Process

Step 1: Online Application

To begin the application process, visit the City of Marathon’s website, where you can apply for a Vacation Rental License or an Agent Training License if needed. Access the application portal here. You will need to create an account to track your application and inspection status and to receive updates and reminders about license renewals.

Step 2: Required Documentation

Ensure you have all the necessary documents to submit with your application:

  • Current DBPR License: Ensure you have a valid Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) license. Rental agencies may use a blanket license covering multiple properties, but it will be verified to ensure it covers your specific address.
  • Florida State Tax Certificate: An active Florida State Tax Certificate is required every year, even if Airbnb or VRBO report taxes on your behalf. To keep your certificate active, report zero dollars monthly to the state or contact [email protected] to reactivate your certificate if needed.
  • Monroe County Business Tax Receipt: Include your Monroe County Tourist Development Tax Account number. You can sign up for this account here.

Step 3: Submission and Review

Once your application and all required documents are submitted as a complete package:

Completeness Check: Your application will be reviewed for completeness and accuracy.

Permit Verification: The property will be checked for any open, in-process, or expired permits. Note that property owners cannot pull Owner/Builder permits if they intend to rent or sell the home within one year of work completion.

Inspection Requirements

Fire Inspection Options

A fire inspection is mandatory, and several options are available:

  • Owner Presence: The property owner can be present during the inspection.
  • Agent Presence: An agent can be present on behalf of the owner.
  • Access Code: Provide a code for access if neither the owner nor the agent can be present. Ensure the home is unoccupied during the inspection to avoid disturbing guests and to allow a thorough inspection. A $150 re-inspection fee applies if guests are present.

Pets During Inspection

No pets should be present in the home or on the property during the inspection. This ensures inspectors can access all areas and avoid startling pets with loud alarms. If pets are present, the inspection will not occur, and a re-inspection fee may be charged.

City of Marathon, FL, Vacation Rental Rules

Signage and Safety Requirements

Signage Requirement

All vacation rental homes must display a sign in the yard or window with the name and phone number of the agent or manager. If the property is a condo without a yard or window, the sign can be posted on a fence, balcony, railing, or door. The sign should be easily readable from outside the home to facilitate communication in case of complaints.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers must be certified annually by a professional company. Even new extinguishers require certification. Local companies such as Monroe County Fire Equipment (305-664-8111) and Keys Extinguisher (305-896-3678) offer this service.

Smoke Detectors and Emergency Lights

Smoke detectors must be hard-wired with battery backup and installed in each bedroom, common areas, and hallways outside sleeping areas. Detectors should be at least 3 feet away from fan blade tips and HVAC vents and 4-6 inches away from walls or roof lines. Emergency lights must be hard-wired with battery backup to illuminate escape paths.

Pool and Hot Tub Regulations

Pool Alarms and Safety

All doors leading to a pool must have alarms. Simple “ding” alarms are insufficient; more robust alarms are required. Hot tubs, spas, and Jacuzzis must have child-safety latches.

New Pool Regulations (Effective July 1, 2024)

Drowning Prevention Notice: Post a visible notice within the pool area with information on drowning prevention and responsibilities.

Lifebuoy Access: Provide access to at least one lifebuoy within the pool barrier.

Depth Markers: Clearly visible depth markers must be posted along the pool’s edge.

Guest Notification: Inform your Airbnb guests that the rental property has a swimming pool.

General Vacation Rental Standards

Short-Term Rental Duration and Agent Requirements

Rental Duration: Rentals must be between 7 and 28 days.

Certified Agent: A certified vacation rental agent is required, whether it be the owner or a separate agent. Certification involves taking a course and paying an annual fee.

Airbnb Property Maintenance and Rules

Cleanliness: The property must be cleaned before each new tenancy.

Single Kitchen Rule: Each vacation rental should have only one kitchen. Additional kitchens imply multiple dwelling units.

Recreational Vehicles: RVs may be on the property but not used for sleeping.

Posting Rules and License: The rules and vacation rental license must be posted adjacent to the front door at all times.

Tenant Records: Maintain a list of all registered tenants and the number, make, and model of all vehicles and watercraft used by the tenants.

Tenant Notification

There must be a written lease for vacation renters that notifies the tenant of:

  • The regulations of Section 8 of the City’s Muni Code and their expected compliance.
  • Their responsibility for all occupants during the rental term and those occupants’ expected compliance with Section 8.
  • A notice that violations of any rules or restrictions of the vacation rental laws may result in termination of the rental lease, eviction, or fines from the City of Marathon.

Compliance with State Requirements

Vacation rentals must meet all state requirements for taxes, safety, health, and environmental protection laws listed in the Florida State statutes.

Licensing Renewal Application Policy

According to the City of Marathon Municipal Code:

  • License Validity: A vacation rental property license is valid for one year and must be renewed annually.
  • Renewal Application: The renewal application should be received by the city 30 days prior to the expiration date of the license.
  • Fees: New vacation rental property and agent licenses require a nonrefundable application fee. The annual renewal fee must be paid 30 days before the expiration date. Licenses not renewed on time become void, requiring a new application and fee.

Vacation Rental Advertising

  • Do Not Advertise Without a License: Pending applications do not constitute a valid license.
  • License Number Display: The vacation rental property license number must appear in all advertising.
  • Penalties for Violations: Advertising with a suspended or revoked license will result in the license being revoked for at least five years.
City of Marathon, FL, Vacation Rental Rules

Other Marathon, FL, Shot-Term Rental Regulations

Noise and Trash Regulations

Excessively loud noise is prohibited between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM without exceptions.

Trash Management

  • Trash Containers: Each unit must have at least four covered trash containers.
  • Collection Times: Trash should be placed out for pickup at 6:00 PM the night before the designated collection day and taken back the next day.
  • Collection Roads: For specific roads like Sombrero Beach Blvd., Coco Plum, and Aviation Blvd., improper trash handling can result in fines. Visit Marathon Garbage Service for schedules and more information.

Parking and Occupancy Regulations

Parking: Between 7:00 AM and 10:00 PM, vehicles should be parked within the property’s designated spaces, including boat trailers. Street parking is allowed only if it is common practice in the area.

Occupancy Limits: The maximum occupancy is calculated as the number of bedrooms times two plus two additional occupants. For instance, a two-bedroom home can accommodate up to six people.

Short-Term Rental Violations and Penalties

Violations of Section 8 of the Municipal Code can result in fines of up to $500 per day, per unit, per violation. Properties with three violations within 12 months will have their license suspended for a year. Repeat offenders may face license revocation.

Local Contact Requirements

If the owner does not reside within an hour of Marathon, a local contact person is required to complete the training. This ensures they are knowledgeable about current rules and regulations and can respond promptly to issues.

Occupancy Taxes in Marathon, FL

Understanding and complying with occupancy tax regulations is essential for vacation rental property owners in Marathon, FL. These taxes are a significant component of the overall regulatory framework and are crucial for maintaining the legal operation of rental properties. Here is a comprehensive guide to occupancy taxes in Marathon, FL.

What Are Occupancy Taxes?

Occupancy taxes, also known as lodging taxes or transient rental taxes, are levied on short-term rentals, including vacation rentals. These taxes are charged to guests who stay in rental properties for a specific period, typically less than six months. The revenue generated from these taxes is often used to support local tourism, infrastructure, and public services.

Types of Occupancy Taxes in Marathon

1. State Sales Tax

The state of Florida imposes a sales tax on rental income from short-term rentals. This tax is currently set at 6%. Property owners or managers must collect this tax from guests and remit it to the Florida Department of Revenue.

2. Monroe County Tourist Development Tax

Monroe County, where Marathon is located, also imposes a Tourist Development Tax on short-term rentals. This tax is 5% and is used to promote tourism and fund local tourism-related projects. The Tourist Development Tax is collected in addition to the state sales tax.

3. Monroe County Business Tax

Property owners must also pay a Monroe County Business Tax. This tax varies based on the type and size of the business, including vacation rentals. Owners must register and obtain a business tax receipt from Monroe County.

4. Florida Discretionary Sales Surtax

Monroe County imposes a discretionary sales surtax of 1.5% on the listing price, including any cleaning fees, for reservations of 182 nights or shorter. This surtax is in addition to the state sales tax and the Monroe County Tourist Development Tax. The discretionary sales surtax is used to fund local projects and services.

Tax Reporting and Record-Keeping

Proper record-keeping and timely reporting are crucial for compliance:

Records: Maintain detailed records of all rental transactions, including amounts collected for rent and taxes.

Reports: File regular tax returns with both the Florida Department of Revenue and the Monroe County Tax Collector’s Office. Ensure accuracy to avoid penalties.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Failure to comply with occupancy tax regulations can result in significant penalties:

  • Fines: Monetary fines for late or incorrect tax filings.
  • Interest: Accrued interest on unpaid taxes.
  • License Revocation: Possible revocation of business licenses, preventing the operation of the rental property.
City of Marathon, FL, Vacation Rental Rules

Benefits of Compliance with Marathon Vacation Rental Rules

Complying with Marathon’s vacation rental rules offers several benefits:

Enhanced Guest Experience

Safety and Comfort

Ensuring all safety standards are met provides a secure environment for guests. Compliance means that Marathon vacation rental properties are equipped with necessary safety features such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, and pool alarms. These measures significantly reduce the risk of accidents and emergencies, thereby enhancing the overall safety and comfort of the stay.

Positive Reviews

Airbnb guests are more likely to leave positive reviews when they feel safe and well cared for. Short-term rental properties that consistently meet regulatory standards tend to receive higher ratings, which can enhance the property’s reputation. Positive reviews lead to increased bookings, as potential guests often rely on previous visitors’ experiences when making their decisions.

Community Harmony

Respect for Neighbors

Adhering to noise and occupancy limits helps maintain good relationships with neighbors. Houses that comply with these regulations ensure that guests do not disrupt the peace and quiet of residential areas, preventing conflicts with the local Airbnb community. This respect for neighbors helps foster a welcoming environment for vacation rentals.

Community Support

Compliance with city regulations demonstrates respect for community standards and laws. It shows that hosts are committed to being responsible members of the community. This responsible behavior fosters a supportive environment for vacation rentals, as residents are more likely to support well-managed properties that follow local rules.

Legal and Financial Security

Avoiding Penalties

By adhering to Marathon’s vacation rental rules, property owners can avoid fines and legal issues. Non-compliance can result in significant penalties, including monetary fines and license revocation. Ensuring that all rules are met protects owners from these financial and legal repercussions.

Sustained Operation

Compliance ensures that properties can continue to operate without interruption. Non-compliance issues, such as unresolved permits or safety violations, can lead to temporary or permanent shutdowns. By following all the rules, owners can sustain their rental operations smoothly and without unexpected disruptions.

Operational Efficiency

Streamlined Management

Properties that comply with short-term rental regulations benefit from streamlined management processes. Regular inspections and maintenance checks ensure that the house is always in good condition, reducing the likelihood of emergency repairs and last-minute fixes. This proactive management approach saves time and resources in the long run.

Reliable Support Systems

Having a certified vacation company like MasterHost and a local contact person ensures that there is always someone available to handle issues promptly. This setup not only complies with regulations but also provides reliable support for guests and quick resolution of any problems that may arise during their stay.

Increased Marketability

Higher Demand

Properties known for strict compliance with local rules and high safety standards are often more attractive to potential renters. This can increase demand, allowing owners to charge competitive rates. Airbnb guests looking for a hassle-free and secure stay are more likely to choose properties that have a proven track record of compliance.

Enhanced Trust

Trust is a crucial factor in the vacation rental market. Compliance with local regulations builds trust with guests, travel agencies, and booking platforms. This trust can lead to repeat bookings and long-term success in the vacation rental market.


In the City of Marathon, FL, vacation rental rules are comprehensive and designed to ensure the safety, comfort, and enjoyment of both residents and visitors. Property owners must adhere to these regulations to operate legally and maintain a positive presence in the community. By understanding and complying with these rules, vacation rental owners can provide an exceptional experience for their guests while contributing to the overall well-being of the Marathon community.