Why You Need a Transient License When Buying a Vacation Rental Property in Key WestKey West is a booming tourist destination. This means it can also be a lucrative investment. Many people purchase homes in the Keys to use as vacation homes or seasonal residences. This means the property is sitting there unused for months when it could be making the owner money.
The City of Key West requires all residential rental properties to have a business tax receipt (City Ordinance, Subpart A, Chapter 18, Article XI, Section 18-601). For this, it is necessary to determine if you wish to rent your property on a transient or non-transient basis. Transient rentals are similar to a hotel with the renters paying either nightly or weekly. Non-transient rentals are rentals for 29 days or more at a time.
Unfortunately, the City of Key West only allows a certain number of properties in the area to have transient licenses. Since these licenses are specific to the property, it is important to know if the property you wish to purchase already has a transient license. Having a transient license raises the selling price of the house, but that can easily be recouped through rentals.

Benefits of a Transient Licensed Property

  • Renting nightly or weekly maximizes earnings potential
  • Most weekly rentals are situated near popular tourist attractions
  • Weekly rentals are in demand year-round
  • Immediate return on investment
  • Can charge costs equivalent to hotel costs
  • Raises property value


Without a transient license, you cannot rent your house for less than 29 days at a time. Property owners who do not have a transient license to rent on a nightly or weekly basis can face up to 60 days in jail and a $5,000 fine per violation. Renters also could be evicted from a property without proper licensing. This can lead to lawsuits from the renters for breach of contract.

Other Considerations

  • Transient rental property owners in Key West must display their license medallion outside the property.
  • The property owner must have a person available for contacting 24/7 to respond to complaints or issues with the rental property.
  • Property owners must maintain an account with the Monroe County Tax Collector to collect and remit taxes.
  • Property owners must maintain an account with the Florida Department of Revenue for collecting and remitting state sales tax.