Vacation Rental Licensing Requirement

So I was recently notified that I need to get a license form the county in order to do short term rental on my lake cabin. As such, I started going through the process, but a couple of things came up that bother me.

  1. They want to require that I put a water meter on my septic system to make sure the use is within the allowed limit. On one hand I’m ok with it as long as I don’t need to pay to install it-- but I don’t think they will pay for it. Is this allowed? Why are the private owners not required to have that installed? I’m not a full time rental.

  2. The regulations allow only 2 people per bedroom plus 1 person per house. With a 3 bedroom cabin, I will only be allowed to rent to 7 people. For personal use, we come up with friends and each family generally has 2 kids. 3 families is 12 people. 7 people for 3 bedrooms seems very limited. Any way around it?

Thanks for any ideas in advance!

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If those are the requirements in your county, then you have to follow them. I’m sure you have looked up all such requirements for yourself.

We all have regulations/laws/zoning codes/neighborhood codes that we have to follow.


Is the meter installation tax deductible?
Why would you want an overloaded septic? Particularly near a lake?

In my view the guest limit is to prevent party houses, and I would fully support it.


I would think that, as Deb says, any improvements you have to pay for will be taken into account by your accountant at the year end.

Are these new regulations in your area or have you just been winging it?

Twelve people seems that it’s overcrowding, even when it’s family and friends but for a rental, seven people in three bedrooms seems about right. I’m not sure why you’d try to cram more in?

Would your STR insurance be okay with more than seven? Usually they are quite adamant about numbers.

I wonder how that would work? Clearly you can not meter the incoming “solids” so you would have to dig up the tank and attach a meter to the back end of the system where the black water goes into the leach lines, then how does this get read?

I would call the county and really try and get them to explain to you how this would work, I have never heard of such a thing, I will be googling this next I am curious…

7 people is more than enough for a 3 bedroom listing IMO

Off to google septic system meters…


Ok, just looked and as thought it would be really hard to do this. You could have a meter that measures the clean water going into the house, which presumably would end up in the septic tank I think would be the most feasible way to measure.

Now the question is how much is too much? How does the county determine this? You need to call and get answers.


I’m pretty sure the county won’t pay for a meter, and of course it’s allowed for them to make you pay it if the law has passed. I imagine they believe private owners are less likely to use water in excess and less likely to put things in the septic system that shouldn’t go there. What I want to know is if the county is actually going to check the meter periodically and verify you’ve had your system cleaned/treated based on the usage. If they don’t, the meter seems pointless.

Additionally, having 12 people in your 3-bedroom cabin is one of the main reasons for your the septic system meter. I expect the county also realizes that even though you only rent for up to 7, the renters will frequently bring more people than they booked for. However, septic systems are typically sized by number of bedrooms with an assumed occupancy of 2 people per bedroom.

That used to be the case where I am, then they switched to fixture units, assigned a number for a sink and a toilet and a shower etc. I am wondering how involved the county is with the septic systems where the OP is, I am guessing the lake comes into play. Almost my entire community is on septic and once it is put in the county is never involved unless you pull a permit to put in new leach lines or it fails and a neighbor complains about the smell.

I hope the OP call the county and gets clarification before making a decision.


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There might be but telling people how to get around the law isn’t something we like to do here. And in the current anti Airbnb environment it’s just asking for things to end badly. There’s always people who think the law doesn’t apply to them. Don’t be them.

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That video is terrible. There was someone killed locally in just the same way here recently. Very sobering.

This TX deputy actually and very luckily only had minor injuries.

That’s astonishing. He’ll pay more attention next time. But as you say, it’s a good lesson that no one is above the law.

I’ve known neighbours here who have decided that Airbnb is a golden goose and an easy way to make money (yeah right) but haven’t bothered with licenses and so on. (And here, licensing isn’t a knee-jerk anti-STR thing, it’s been around forever).

The local authorities have found them within a couple of months. That’s probably before the hosts have had the chance to recoup their start-up costs.

There are lots of things that technology can’t do yet but it can discover illegal rentals pretty easily.


In my area, to do short term, meaning anything less than 30 days, you are required to have ‘the permit’. Renting out short term without said permit, one faces an initial fine of $20K. Plus $10K per day of code violation.

Don’t mess with authority!

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Unless you want those huge fines. :slight_smile:

The trouble is that so many people have the mistaken idea that they can get away with it but that won’t last long.

And really, the reason that the authorities want permits and so on is so that the standard of rentals is maintained - a good thing for all of us.

Sorry to drift the discussion off from the OP, but the reason in many areas is that STR take away potential rentals to the locals for long term rental usage.

Semi-On Topic… locally, the sewer usage charge is billed based on water use.

Thank you for all the replies. The license is new and starting in January. I’m trying to be ahead of the curve and do things legally-- though I envy the people that have been renting there for years without all the overhead cost :slight_smile:

A few people brought up a good point on 7 people vs 12. I will check if that’s the reason they’re requesting I put in a meter. My logic for 12 people is that we usually go there with our friends-- and each family seems to average 2 little kids. So though we have 6 adults, we end up with 6 kids. Yes, they use water, but no where near what adults use. Also, coming up on the weekend-- all 6 people don’t shower every day :slight_smile:

Anyway, thank you for the idea-- I will check and get back with results!

People vacationing with 6 kids vs the 6 kids of friends and family might be verrrry different. Proceed with caution. We’ve had many unpleasant stories here of issues with children. Make sure you have all the safety measures like baby gates at stairs, tip preventers on dressers, TVs mounted up on walls out of reach, etc.

Childproof locks on all cupboard doors, covers for electrical outlets, no sharp edges, supplies of toys and cribs, the likelihood of child toilet accidents, provision of plastic children’s plates etc., … I wouldn’t dare do it. You’re brave, Julian. :slight_smile:

The fact that the cabin is on the lake would scare me too with guest-children. You’ll need to make sure that your STR insurance is cast-iron. I wonder if it’s more expensive for waterfront properties + children?

so I understand the potential concern, but I am by no means the first to rent a cabin out. I’ve rented many cabins from people before I had my own and never did I see anything specific to kids in the rental agreement or instructions. Even my insurance agent didn’t bring up the kids falling or drowning-- isn’t that what they have parents for-- not property managers :slight_smile:

Fair enough, I’m just saying that you’re braver than me. :slight_smile:

Those of us with small rentals that aren’t really child friendly are quite lucky in that regard.

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