Airbnb vacation rentals in Maine are governed by laws and regulations and liable for taxes as imposed by the State as well as the County and/or City in which they are located.
Maine has long attracted visitors looking for outdoor adventure, breathtaking natural beauty, and a thrilling escape from the fast pace of urban life, all year round. Visitors can enjoy vast forest wilderness, tall mountains, and the Atlantic Ocean, blessed with choices of gorgeous hikes, fantastic fishing, mountain climbing, snowboarding, biking, skiing, and other sports activities. Maine is also home to one of the most popular national parks in the US – Acadia National Park – and amazing food. With just about 43 residents per square mile, there’s plenty of space for tourists.
In 2019, tourists spent $6.5 billion in the state with direct spending by overnight visitors totaling over $5.2 million. More than 21.8 million tourists spent one or more nights in the state that year, of which 20.8 million were out of state visitors. Visitors from Canada, across the border, made up a significant cohort of numbers and spending, accounting for 5.4 million visitors and $329 million spend on stores in Maine. The year 2021 saw less visitors, tallying at 15.6 million. However, spend increased to $7.8 billion with visitors staying longer, averaging at 6 nights per trip.
All short term rental owners or operators must register with the Maine Revenue Service and collect and remit Maine State Sales Tax. This amounts to 9% of the listing pricing including cleaning and guest fees and applies to casual rentals (fewer than 15 nights a year) as well as long term rentals (28 days or longer). Airbnb collects and remits this to the state on behalf of all relevant Airbnb listings.
The state imposes no other laws, regulations, or taxes on Airbnb vacation rentals located within its jurisdiction.
The lack of state-level legislation of short term rentals leaves it to the hands of county and city governments. Most local councils however have no regulations on the books for short term vacation rentals. Cities that do regulate Airbnbs and other vacation rentals tend to be popular tourist destinations.
Here are the Airbnb vacation rental laws, regulations, and taxes applicable at a local level in some of the most popular tourist cities in Maine.
The largest city in the state and the seat of Cumberland County, Portland is in fact a collection of small villages packed with sights, shopping, and fine food while infused with a small town atmosphere. The city, after which its namesake in Oregon is named, is known for its arts and 19th century architecture, fishing, commercial shipping, and over 700 acres of open space and public parks. Organic land care is required throughout its borders and synthetic pesticides have been banned since 2018. The city hosts a number of food festivals throughout the year, including Harvest on the Harbor, Festival of Nations, and Maine Brewers Festival.
Portland recognizes 4 different types of short term rentals:
Owner Occupied Unit This applies when the rental is operated by the owner who can provide proof of primary residence. Only 1 dwelling unit with 5 units within the primary dwelling unit is permitted. In the case of a building, 2 total units = 1 STR unit, 3 total units = 2 STR units, 4 total units = 3 STR units, 5 total units = 4 STR units, and 6+ total units = 5 STR units. These include owner and tenant occupied units.
Tenant Occupied Unit This applies when the rental is operated by a permanent tenant who can provide proof of primary residence and notarized landlord permission. Only 1 dwelling unit with 5 units within the primary dwelling unit is permitted. In the case of a building, 2 total units = 1 STR unit, 3 total units = 2 STR units, 4 total units = 3 STR units, 5 total units = 4 STR units, and 6+ total units = 5 STR units.
Non-Owner Occupied Unit (Mainland) A total of 5 units are allowed including tenant occupied units. No single-family homes or condos are allowed. 2 total units = 1 STR unit, 3-5 total units = 2 STR units, 6-9 total units = 3 STR units, and 10+ total units = 5 STR units.
Island Rentals A total of 5 units are permitted with owner-occupied and non-occupied limits applying, depending on the type of buildings.
All short term rentals must register with the City of Portland. Registration must be renewed annually, by December 31.
One of the best performing Airbnb markets for Acadia National Park, itself one of the most visited parks in the US drawing 4 million visits in 2021, Bar Harbor is located in Mount Desert Island, the largest island off the coast of Maine. Home to approximately 5,200 people, it is a popular year-round tourist destination despite its humid summers and cold winters. On top of outdoor enthusiasts looking to hike, bike, and fish, it also attracts science enthusiasts, being the home of the College of the Atlantic, Jackson Laboratory, and MDI Biological Laboratory. A great place to spot wildlife, on land and sea, it also attracts visitors from large cruise ships who dock in its harbor.
The Town of Bar Harbor recognizes 2 types of short term rentals:
Vacation Rental-1 (VR-1) A dwelling unit, or portion thereof, that is the primary residence of the property owner or on the owner’s primary residence property and is rented to a person or a group for less than 30 days and a minimum of two nights. The rental of a portion of the dwelling, such as a bedroom, must be located in the principal structure housing the dwelling unit.
Vacation Rental-2 (VR-2) An entire dwelling unit that is not the primary residence of the property owner and is rented to a person or a group for less than 30 days and a minimum of 4 nights.
All short term rentals must be registered with the Town of Bar Harbor. Registrations must be renewed annually, on or before May 31.
All short term rental properties have to pass an inspection before they are issued a registration card. An inspection must be conducted every 3 years. The inspection will cover egress, electrical, fire safety, general housekeeping, heating, and other requirements.
Once the inspection is passed and the registration card obtained, it must be displayed on the premises so as to be conveniently inspected by a rental occupant.
Ogunquit means “beautiful place by the sea” and according to legend was named by the Abenaki tribe. Over time, it has evolved from a fishing village into a booming tourist destination. Known for both its beaches and thriving arts community, it is home to less than a thousand people, and is known for attracting visitors specifically from the Hamptons and other parts of New York. It is also known for being a great LGBTQ+ destination with many restaurants, galleries, and night clubs being gay-owned and operated. The most walkable community in Maine and popular among families, Ogunquit has been named a top beach town and one of the prettiest beaches in the US.
The Town of Ogunquit permits short term rentals but enforces a minimum stay requirement of 7 days. The property can be a private house, apartment, condominium or other type of dwelling unit. Property owners must apply for a Business Registration and comply with the town safety codes.
The seat of Knox County, the Town of Rockland is known for being more than just the lobster capital of the world. It has also been recognized as the Coolest Small Town in the US (Budget Travel), Top Adventure Town in Maine (National Geographic Travel), and Top 9 Small Foodies Towns in Maine. Containing beautiful historic buildings, a large fleet of tall-masted schooners known as windjammers, boat cruises, and home to festivals like the North Atlantic Blues Festival and Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland is a vibrant destination. Its historic Main Street is replete with eclectic boutiques, art galleries, museums, and award-winning restaurants. The popular tourist destination is also a departure point for the Maine State Ferry Service to Vinalhaven, North Haven, and Matinicus islands.
The City of Rockland defines a short term rental as a single-, two-, or multi-family structure rented to guests for periods of less than one month. It recognizes three types of short term rentals:
Short Term Rental – 1 (STR-1) An owner-occupied single-family structure in which not more than one bedroom is rented or offered for rent to one person or one family for periods of less than one month, or a dwelling unit in a two-family structure in which one unit is occupied by the owner of the entire structure that is rented or offered for rent by one person or one family for periods of less than one month.
Short Term Rental – 2 (STR-2) A single-family structure that is not occupied by its owner that is rented or offered for rent to one person or one family for periods of less than one month, or one dwelling unit in a non-owner-occupied two-family structure rented or offered for rent to one person or one family for periods of less than one month.
Short Term Rental – 3 (STR-3) One dwelling unit in a multifamily or mixed-use structure that is rented or offered for rent to one person or one family for periods of less than one month.
Operating a short term rental requires obtaining a Short Term Rental Permit which must be renewed annually. Other requirements include adequate insurance coverage, on-site parking spaces, compliance with all building, fire prevention, and life safety codes, and zoning permissibility.
The rules that govern Airbnbs and other short term vacation rentals in Maine depend on the individual laws, regulations, and taxes imposed by the state, county, and city where your property is located. If you are finding it difficult to parse through the different codes applicable, it can be helpful to seek the advice of a lawyer or consultant to ensure you are aware of the up-to-date rules applicable to your Airbnb.