Chapter 4

Setting Up a Short-Term Rental Registration System

Registration is an important step in short-term rental management, but how do local governments get started?
Chapter 1

What is a Short-Term

Chapter 2

Using Software to Manage Short-Term Rental Compliance

Chapter 3
Short-Term Rental Identification
Chapter 4

Setting Up a Short-Term Rental Registration System

Chapter 5
Collecting Taxes from Short-Term Rentals
Chapter 6

Providing Short-Term Rental Resources to Your Community

Chapter 7

Short-Term Rental Policies & Practices Across the U.S.

An essential step in creating an effective short-term rental (STR) management program is setting up a registration system. The system will look different depending on the community’s objectives and any limitations resulting from state or local legislation.

There are a variety of ways local governments configure STR registration systems. Some examples include ones requiring STR operators to complete one of the following:


Apply for and renew a license


Apply for and renew a zoning permit


Complete a simple account activation process


Enter emergency contact information

Couple looking at their laptop in the kitchen.

In all these cases, local governments are provided with, at minimum, basic contact information for STR operators in their communities. This ensures they can relay important information, such as health and safety notifications, and know whom to call in the event of an emergency at the property.

For jurisdictions that do require a business license or STR permit, the system can process and store all the required information to help staff keep track of compliance. Whatever unique requirements the jurisdiction has in place, the system should be easy to use, providing citizens with a straightforward process to follow while gathering the necessary information for government staff to complete tasks.

Now, let’s explore some of the dos and don’ts of setting up a short-term rental registration system. After, we’ll look at how communities that cannot—or choose not—to require licenses or formal registrations can still establish a system to collect the necessary information to communicate with STR hosts.

The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Up a Short-Term Rental Registration System

Short-term rental software can help your agency set up a registration system that fits the unique requirements of your jurisdiction. It can also streamline the tedious and time-consuming aspects of the process to allow staff more time to tackle tasks that require a human touch.

By becoming aware of some common pitfalls in setting up a registration system, local governments can plan ahead and establish a program that balances the needs of residents, hosts, and visitors while ensuring compliance with state and local regulations.


  • DO involve all stakeholders in the planning stage
    • Cross-departmental collaboration among internal stakeholders is critical in the early stages. Often many departments—such as finance, code enforcement, community development, IT, etc.—have a role in helping to manage STRs. Putting together a team of everyone who has an interest in the process will help you set up a short-term rental registration system that fits your community.
  • DO establish clear guidelines
    • The majority of STR operators want to follow regulations, but many don’t know the steps it takes to get registered, and some may not even know the requirements exist. The answer? Develop clear and comprehensive guidelines that outline requirements, regulations, and procedures for STR registration. Then, make sure the guidelines are easily accessible and understandable for both hosts and visitors.
  • DO provide resources to the community
    • Informing STR operators about local regulations can go a long way in improving compliance rates. A solution provider should offer partner resources to help you educate the community about important topics like good neighbor practices. This will ultimately increase the likelihood of success when it comes to adoption and adherence to the STR registration process.


  • DON’T hesitate to automate repetitive tasks
    • Utilizing technology to facilitate the STR registration process means that many repetitive tasks can be automated, giving staff more time to focus on other parts of the process. This includes everything from sending notifications with instructions on how to register in the system to automatically routing applications to the appropriate person or department following submission.
  • DON’T neglect data privacy
    • Ensure the short-term rental registration system complies with data protection and privacy regulations. Safeguarding personal information by establishing protocols for secure data handling is key. The STR registration system should allow admin staff to set internal permissions to limit who can access information in the system.
  • DON’T overlook periodic review
    • Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the short-term rental registration process and make necessary adjustments based on emerging trends, challenges, and stakeholder feedback. If existing legislation changes or new requirements are introduced, make sure the short-term rental software you choose is nimble enough to adapt to and accommodate these changes.
City skyline with networking data points

What if a jurisdiction can’t establish a formal STR license or registration process?

If local or state legislation prevents your agency from requiring an STR license to operate, you still likely have the option to collect certain informationsuch as emergency contact detailsfrom STR operators. Even by capturing basic contact information, your staff will be able to quickly determine whom to contact when the need arises.

It’s important to confirm the software provider you choose is able to customize the online registration process and set up a system that will only collect specific information from STR operators.

Setting Up a Short-Term Rental Registration System with GovOS

The journey to reaching a high STR compliance rate looks different for each jurisdiction. Effectively managing your STR market means working with operators to bring them into compliance with local government regulations—whether through licensing, zoning permits, emergency contact collection, or account activation. This is where the right software provider can play an important role.

With the GovOS STR solution, you can streamline the registration process for property managers with an online task portal that allows them to access their accounts anywhere, anytime. Our team also provides ongoing support to your staff and community to help ensure your STR management program is a success.

To learn more, book a demo today.