After a unanimous vote held by Gulf Shores City Council, new vacation rental regulations will go into effect next year. These revisions were made to the business license ordinance. The new guidelines include: monthly lodging tax reports must be submitted based on individual business licenses and a local contact must be designated for each rental dwelling in case of an emergency or complaint.
In other news, Citizen-serve Software has been contracted to design a database that will keep track of all rental properties. The initial costs for this contract is $54,500 for the first year. Under the new ordinance, property owners must have an emergency contact available at a moments notice. If the emergency contact fails to respond to a city employee’s call within two hours the business license holder can face fines of $100 to $500, per offense, and potentially 30 days in jail. Similar penalties, per offense, will be applied if an emergency contact is not maintained after a business license is issued.
With the new lodging tax accountability rule, each condo complex, rental agent, management company or individual owner must submit monthly lodging tax reports and annual returns broken down by unit including the specific taxpayer identification number of each business license holder.
Prior to the council’s approval on Monday night, it had engaged the hospitality business community with public meetings over a two-month period and the ordinance was revised after each meeting. One important issue that has been omitted from property owners is they no longer have to visibly display emergency contact information at each dwelling. This future endeavor with Citizen-serve allows law enforcement, emergency personnel and building officials easy accessibility on each rental property by its address through the new database program. “We’ve had multiple meetings and got a lot of good input,” Mayor Robert Craft said at last week’s work session, “And hopefully we’ve got a document that will work the first time out and if it doesn't we’ll work with our business partners and adjust it until it does. So it’s a good first step.”