1. Business
  2. Licensing & Permits

Short Term Rentals

Anyone wishing to rent a property on a short-term basis must receive a business license from the City of Huntsville. The operation of such a business without appropriate licensing is against the law. This includes listings within Huntsville City limits on rental websites such as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway.

A short term rental means renting, offering to rent, making available or allowing others to rent, sublease or use property (including campgrounds) as a place of lodging or accommodation to transients on a short-term basis.

Short term rentals are defined as stays under six months, 179 days or less.

There are several steps to gaining a Short Term Rental License


If you are seeking to operate a short term rental, please contact the City of Huntsville Zoning Administration at 256-564-8008 to verify the use and location in an approved Zoning District. Generally, short term rentals are not permitted in most residential zoning districts. They are treated as motels under the City’s zoning logs.

  • Zoning districts where short-term rentals are allowed as a primary use include: Residence 2-B, General Business C-3, Highway Business C-4, Commercial Recreation C-5, Light Industry, Heavy Industry, Airport Industrial Park and Research Park Commercial.
  • Zoning districts where short term rentals are allowed as a special exception: Neighborhood Business C-2, Village Business C-6, Research Park Applications, Research Park Applications 2, Research Park 2 and Airport Commercial.

Regulations may be referenced in Accessory Uses per the City of Huntsville Zoning Ordinance.

Locate your address and zoning district by using the City’s Interactive Zoning Map


After verification and approval by the Zoning Administration of the proposed short term rental, the applicant will be required to apply for a Business License with City of Huntsville Finance Department. The application/license is routed to all appropriate Departments for approval, which may take up to 10 business days.


Once the City has completed its review, applicants will be notified of approval or disapproval, along with any license fee due.


Lodging tax must be collected for the operation of short term rentals. The tax amount is calculated based on the charge for room(s), lodging or accommodation for a period of less than 180 consecutive days, including charges for use or rental of personal property and services in connection with the room. (City of Huntsville Code of Ordinances, License and Tax, Chapter 15, Articles II & III)

  • City of Huntsville Lodging Tax Rate 9%
  • Lodging Tax Surcharge $2 per room/night

File and pay lodging taxes through the State of Alabama OneSpot portal 


  • Lodging or accommodation for 180 consecutive days or more by the same occupant is exempt from payment of the lodging tax.
  • Transactions with governmental entities or qualified charitable and religious organizations are also exempt, subject to certain conditions.