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Town of Bluffton – Short Term Rental Setup Guide

Town of Bluffton Sign

Thinking about purchasing a short term rental in the Town of Bluffton South Carolina, or converting a property from long-term to short-term? Short term is defined as rented in its entirety to Transient Guests for less than 30 consecutive days. Here is a guide to get you started.

Please note most of this information is right from the Town of Bluffton’s website here Short-Term Rentals | Bluffton, SC and is subject to change without notice.

1. Locate a Property

  • Make sure your property is zoned in the Town of Bluffton to allow short term rentals.
    • A maximum of one (1) Short-term Rental Unit is permitted per lot in the following zoning districts: Agricultural (AG), Rural Mixed-Use (RMU), Residential General (RG), Neighborhood Core (NC), General Mixed-Use (GM), Riverfront Edge Historic District (RV-HD), Neighborhood Conservation Historic District (NCV-HD), Neighborhood General Historic District (NG-HD), and Neighborhood Center Historic District (NCE-HD) as of January 1, 2021. This limitation shall not apply to lots within the Neighborhood Core-Historic District. Compliance with the Town of Bluffton Unified Development Ordinance and Chapter 6, Article V of the Town of Bluffton Code of Ordinances is required.
    • You can use this map to see if the property is within the Town of Bluffton and the Zoning: https://www.townofbluffton.us/map/index.html
  • It must have adequate parking 1 space per bedroom
  • Make sure to let your homeowner’s insurance company know you will be renting – it’s a different type of insurance!

2. Prepare the Property

  • Operable fire extinguisher
  • Address Numbers Posted
  • Visible From the Street
  • Each Bedroom – Operable Smoke Detector
  • Each Bedroom – Operable window that meets requirement for emergency egress
  • Main area on each floor – operable smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector
  • A “Guest Information” document that includes the following:
    • The name, address, telephone number(s) and email address of the of the Short-term Rental Unit Agent
    • The business license number assigned by the Town (see below for licensing)
    • The maximum occupancy of the Short-term Rental Unit
    • The location of required parking spaces
    • Emergency numbers for local police and fire
    • The schedule of solid waste and recycling pick-up
    • The location of the nearest hospital
    • A statement that any sound that could be reasonably expected to create a nuisance or cause disturbance to the peace and enjoyment of neighboring properties will not be permitted and that “quiet hours” are between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. The Town of Bluffton will enforce its Noise Control Ordinance
  • Provide notice to adjacent property owners
  • Display your short term rental permit after receiving it see below

3. Get your Licenses

Town of Bluffton Business License Form
  • The Town of Bluffton Business License is first. $50 application fee and it renews each year April 30 at $50 for first $2,000 in gross revenue then $1.30 per $1000. You can find the application here: https://www.townofbluffton.sc.gov/DocumentCenter/View/518/New-Business-License-Application-PDF and then email the completed applicaton to businesslicense@townofbluffton.com or stop by the office at 20 Bridge Street Bluffton, SC 29910.
  • After you receive your Business License number you can then apply for the Short Term Rental Permit with the Town of Bluffton. Click Here to Apply
    • Must be obtained prior to advertising, leasing or operating any dwelling unit as a Short-term Rental Unit
    • Must Meet Zoning Requirements
    • Provie Proof of ownership – upload mortgage statement, tax bill, title, recorded deed
    • Must provide a letter from HOA stating short term rentals are allowed
    • 3rd Party Safety Inspection:
      • Upload pictures of the smoke detectors in each bedroom
      • The windows to show egress in each bedroom
      • The main floor smoke/carbon monoxide detectors
      • The fire extinguisher
      • The address number posted visible from street
  • Once you have your Short Term Rental Permit back (takes about 1-2 weeks for approval) you must display inside the unit and you are ready to list on AIRBNB, VRBO etc…

4. Maintain the Unit

  • You must be available twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week at the phone number(s) listed on your application
  • Be willing and able to come to the Short-term Rental Unit property within one (1) hour following notification to address issues related to the property
  • Be authorized to receive service of any legal notice on behalf of the owner for violations of the Town of Bluffton General Code of Ordinances and/or the Unified Development Ordinance
  • Be able to produce copies of the executed rental or lease agreement for current occupants as needed
  • Monitor the Short-term Rental Unit at least once weekly to ensure compliance with applicable ordinances.
  • File monthly and pay for the 3% accommodations tax (gross proceeds of more that $1,666 per month) – online option here: https://sc.accessgov.com/bluffton/Forms/Page/bluffton/atax/0 or print and mail here: https://www.townofbluffton.sc.gov/DocumentCenter/View/528/Accommodations-Tax-Payment-Form-PDF
    • VRBO typically collects and remits payments for accommodations taxes automatically on your behalf, AIRBNB does not however and you must manually make those payments with the Town of Bluffton
    • Payments are due on or before the 20th day following the end of the filing period to avoid late penalties of 5% of the unpaid amount for each month or portion thereof until paid in full.
  • If you manage the unit yourself and do not use websites such as AIRBNB and VRBO be sure your are collecting the correct taxes to remit payments. In addition to the 3% accommodations tax, South Carolina also collects a 2% accommodations tax on short term rentals.
  • All Short-term Rental Unit permit holders must apply annually for renewal of the Short-term Rental Unit permit. $325 renewal. Expires 12/31 each year.
  • And remember to renew your business license each year.

Notes

  • A Permit is nontransferable; a change of ownership of the Short-term Rental Unit shall require the new owner to obtain a new Short-term Rental Unit permit.
  • A change in the Short-term Rental agent, an increase in the number of bedrooms or decrease in the number of required parking spaces shall not occur without approval of a new permit by the Town of Bluffton.

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