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Short-Term Rental Licensing

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a short-term rental?
Short-term rentals (STRs) are dwelling units rented for less than 30 days, typically advertised as rentals. A dwelling unit is defined as a room or group of rooms arranged, intended, or designed as a habitable unit, containing kitchen, bath and sleeping facilities, for not more than one household living independently of any other household. 

When was the short-term rental ordinance approved and when does it go into effect?
TRO Title 21, Chapter 26 was approved by Tulsa City Council on March 11, 2020 and signed by the Mayor on March 16, 2020. The ordinance requires an annual license for each short-term rental in the City of Tulsa, effective July 1, 2020.

The ordinance classifies STRs into two broad categories - Principal use or Accessory use.

For definitions, see Ordinance 24323 and Ordinance 24328.

What are some of the requirements per the ordinance?
The ordinance requires STR operators, starting July 1, 2020, to obtain a short-term rental license before advertising or offering the property for rent. The ordinance also requires a local contact person to be designated for each short-term rental who can always be contacted by the City.

What are my responsibilities as a short-term rental operator?
Property owners and operators are responsible for reviewing the entire short-term rental zoning and licensing ordinances Ordinance 24323 and Ordinance 24328. The following standards provide an abbreviated version:

What does it cost to obtain a short-term rental license?
The STR license can be obtained for a license fee of $75 and an implementation and compliance fee of $300, for a total of $375.

How long is the license valid?
A short-term rental license expires on June 30 of each year and must be renewed annually to remain in compliance.

How do I apply for a short-term rental license?
You may register for your license online

Are there any other requirements to operate a Short-Term Rental?
Yes, operators who offer properties for rent with five (5) or more total rooms (including bedrooms, bathrooms, dining room, kitchen, etc.) are required to collect a lodging tax of 5 percent from guests and remit those taxes monthly to the City of Tulsa.

When do I report and remit those taxes?
The tax is due the last calendar day of the month following the date of collection.  However, filers can claim a 3 percent discount if the return and payment is delivered to the City by the 15th of each month.

How often do I file a tax return?
Lodging tax reports and taxes are due monthly.

Is the lodging tax different from sales tax?
Yes. Lodging taxes are remitted to the City of Tulsa. They are administered by the City of Tulsa. Sales taxes are remitted to the Oklahoma Tax Commission based on State statutes.

How do I file and pay my taxes online?
You can file and pay your lodging taxes online

Who do I contact with questions?
You may email or call (918) 248-9148.

How did this ordinance begin?
The City of Tulsa has seen a significant increase in residential properties being rented on a short-term basis. Typically, the residence is marketed through on online platform, such as AirBnB or VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) and accommodates guests for periods of time less than 30 days.

The City of Tulsa Zoning Code classifies any properly being rented for less than 30 days as "Lodging". Within the "Lodging" use category there are a number of subcategories such as hotels, campgrounds, and bed and breakfasts. The current City interpretation is that all short-term rentals shall be classified as bed and breakfasts. Bed and breakfasts require special exception approval by the City Board of Adjustment (BOA) when they are situated in residentially zoned areas. The previous zoning code language did not address all forms of short-term rentals. The intent of this amendment would be to provide clarification as to how short-term rentals are classified and to apply additional regulations and requirements for property owners who wish to operate within residential areas.

How long has the City been working on it?

As the majority of short-term rentals are in Council Districts 4 and 9, Councilor Ben Kimbro (District 9) and former Councilor Blake Ewing (District 4) organized and held Town Hall meetings on October 10, 2017 and October 11, 2017 to gather feedback from short-term rental owners and neighbors that live near those properties. Following the Town Hall meetings, staff of INCOG and other City departments started researching best practices and discussing technical details of a potential short-term rental program for the City of Tulsa.

The Tulsa City Council officially initiated the process to amend the zoning ordinance on August 29, 2018. Since initiation, a working group comprised of representatives from the Tulsa Planning Office, City Legal, and the Mayor's office was formed to discuss and draft a proposal. Additional meetings were held with representatives from Working in Neighborhoods (Inspections), Development Services (Permits), and Finance (Licensing). Councilor Kara Joy McKee (District 4) held a Town Holl meeting on January 12, 2019 at Central Center to solicit feedback and discuss the proposal.

On April 3, 2019, the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) voted 6-2-0 to recommend the City Council adopt the proposed amendment to the City of Tulsa Zoning Code. The two (2) dissenting voters wanted stronger legislation requiring Board of Adjustment hearings for all uses and not only principal uses.

Did any regulations apply to short-term rentals before this ordinance?
Yes. Before this ordinance, all short-term rentals were required to go before the City Board of Adjustment for approval. Under the new ordinance, accessory uses are allowed by right.

What is the purpose of this ordinance?

What does the license fee pay for?
In order to ensure compliance with the licensing and tax remittance requirements of this ordinance, the City anticipates engaging a compliance monitoring company that can provide the following services:

  1. Identify all short-term rentals in operation within the City of Tulsa.
  2. Monitor and report rental activities at the short-term rental units on an ongoing basis.
  3. Contact property owners who are out of compliance with City ordinances and regulations.
  4. Provide short-term rental property owners a positive customer experience with registrations, tax reporting and remittance, and the reporting of any issues experienced.
  5. Provide a dedicated 24/7 hotline for neighbors to report noise, parking, and other complaints.

In addition to engaging a compliance monitoring company, the City intends to hire a Code Enforcement Officer dedicated to ensuring short-term rental compliance of the City’s regulations. 

How do I report a violation at a Short-Term Rental?
Routine Short-Term Rental complaints can be reported 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to the City of Tulsa Short-Term Rental Hotline at (918) 248-9148 or on the web. Routine complaints are typically addressed by City Staff within 24 business hours.

Urgent or after-hours complaints needing an immediate response can be reported by calling non-emergency police at (918) 596-9222.

What is the penalty for non-compliance with this ordinance?
Penalties can be found in Ordinance 24323, Section 2606.

Fire Safety Tips for Short-Term Rentals