Like other regions across the U.S., the Midwest has seen a steady increase in the popularity of short-term rentals (STRs) booked by travelers on digital platforms like Vrbo and Airbnb. In Missouri, local governments have taken a number of different approaches to regulating and managing STRs. Here’s a snapshot of how cities in Missouri have balanced the needs of STR operators with those of residents and businesses.
In response to an audit that found hundreds of unregistered STRs within the city, as well as quality of life concerns from residents, Kansas City recently passed a number of new rules for STR operators. Non-owner-occupied STRs are now restricted in residential zones, except for those already in operation. Any grandfathered-in that are found violating city ordinances will lose their permit for a year.
The city also set a $200 registration fee that will increase annually based on the Consumer Price Index. Other changes include moving STR management and code compliance enforcement to the Neighborhood Services Department, asking operators to keep records of any complaints, and revoking permits for three years for any STRs that have three code violations.
Branson, part of Taney County, is a popular destination for travelers in the Ozarks. The city, which attracted 10.2 million visitors in 2022, is home to a number of entertainment options including a theme park, performance venues, museums, and a thriving food scene. In 2021, city officials made changes to the municipal code that restricted the rental of individual rooms in a single-family dwelling on a nightly basis and limited nightly rentals in planned developments to those that specifically state STRs are allowed. The city also limits STRs to high-density zones.
In St. Louis, the city hopes to pass legislation that has been in the works for several years. The proposal includes limiting the number of permits for non-owner-occupied units to four, and such permits would only be granted to individuals, not LLCs. Operators would also be required to hire someone to be available 24 hours a day to respond to any issues that arise at STR properties. The bill is designed to ensure most STR operators are locals living in the state.
In Columbia, the state’s fastest-growing city, regulations that have been in the works for years are nearing a vote. Some of the potential policies include limiting STR permits to one per operator, setting a maximum occupancy of eight, and separating owners into three different tiers with varying permissions. Tier 1 would allow owners with a personal residence to rent it for 30 days per year, Tier 2 would allow 120 nights on a conditional use permit with certain restrictions, and those under Tier 3 (properties rented for over 120 nights) are limited to zones that aren’t single-family.
St. Louis County
Like other local governments on this list, St. Louis County limits STRs to certain zones and requires permits to operate them, depending on the nature of the rental. Other rules in the county include: requiring owners to clearly mark property lines, providing sufficient on-site parking for renters, and prohibiting transfers of permits when property ownership changes hands.
Osage Beach, in Camden County near the Lake of the Ozarks, is a resort town that sees significant tourism. There, the city does not have restrictions in place for STR operation in most zones, except for one multi-family zone, and does not require a business license, though tax collection is required.
A Guide to Short-Term Rentals for Local Governments
Springfield has one of the more unique ordinances when it comes to non-owner-occupied STR approval. Applicants are required to hold a neighborhood meeting and obtain signatures of support from 55% of owners of adjacent properties, or go in front of the city council for approval. The city mails protest petitions to adjacent owners if the STR operator doesn’t meet the 55% threshold, and if they go unanswered, it is assumed there is no protest.
The city is considering making changes to the process, as well as looking into tracking software to identify the hundreds of estimated unlicensed STRs operating there.
In the state’s third-oldest city, officials put a one-year moratorium on granting new residential STR permits while the city evaluated how well regulations were working with currently operating STRs. Those regulations include annual safety inspections, a 500-foot distance requirement between STRs, a 0.5% cap on total residential housing units, and mandatory noise monitoring devices installed inside STRs to alert hosts when noise levels rise above established limits.
Short-Term Rental Management Made Easy
There is a wide variety of approaches to managing STRs, and how your local municipality regulates them will depend on the unique needs of your city. The GovOS short-term rental platform is designed to integrate seamlessly with any local government’s needs. Learn how GovOS can simplify STR management tasks like tracking, compliance enforcement, and tax collection. Start by booking a demo today.