What is a Vacation Home Rental? An Expert's Guide

A vacation rental is a temporary rental of a furnished apartment, house, or professionally managed hotel-condominium complex to tourists as an alternative to a hotel. This type of rental is primarily found in the United States and is subject to taxation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you rent the vacation property at fair market value for more than 14 days a year, the IRS considers you a landlord and your rental costs can be deducted proportionately to the use of the property as a short-term rental. The amount you can deduct is determined by dividing the number of days you rented the property by the combined total of personal use and rental days.

For example, if your property is used 100 days a year, 75 for rentals and 25 for personal use, you can deduct 75% of eligible expenses. However, deductions cannot exceed the total amount of rental income, which is reported in Schedule E of your 1040 along with rent-related expenses. If you provide important hotel-like services for guests, such as cleaning or breakfast, you will need to file Schedule C and pay self-employment taxes. In contrast, vacation rental agencies manage bookings and billing on behalf of the landlord, and there is no direct contact between the guest and the landlord.

In this case, your vacation home rental business is considered a “business” rather than a rental real estate activity. When a vacation home is rented for a period of more than 28 days, it is sometimes referred to as a “monthly” or “seasonal” rental. Some vacation homes may be considered investment properties, but not all investment properties are vacation homes. Resort and condo complexes are now offering daily vacation rentals that were previously only available through purchase options such as wholly owned, fractional or timeshare.

Vacation rentals generally occur in privately owned vacation properties (vacation homes), so the range of accommodations is wide and inconsistent. Vacation rental permit holders collect and remit the municipal transient occupancy tax (currently 11.5%) on all paid short-term stays. This is because homeowners are more likely to save the primary residence than the vacation home when the property faces an auction. Even in months when the vacation rental operator has no income from short-term rentals (either because the home was not rented, owner-occupied, or rented by a long-term tenant), permit holders must file a TOT return. Under these agreements, vacation rental managers buy every week that the landlord wants to rent in a single transaction.

If a vacation home is rented for 15 days or more per year, rental income must be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) using Schedule E. For more information on offering residential properties for rent, see Publication 527, Residential Rental Properties (Including Renting holiday homes).The IRS requires vacation homes to be used for 14 days and 10% of the number of days the property is rented. Vacation home rentals offer an attractive alternative to traditional hotels for travelers looking for more space and amenities at an affordable price. With careful planning and research into local regulations and taxes, renting out your vacation home can be an excellent way to generate additional income while still enjoying your property.

Cathleen Testa
Cathleen Testa

Typical travel ninja. Hardcore food enthusiast. Evil webaholic. Avid internet expert. Unapologetic social mediaholic.