California is a popular location for investing in an Airbnb property due to its diverse range of attractions, including Pacific beaches, redwood forests, and national parks, as well as its year-round demand from guests due to the favorable climate and diverse outdoors activities. However, strict short-term rental laws and regulations in some California cities, including popular tourist destinations, can make it difficult to operate a legal and successful Airbnb business. It is therefore important to hire one of the best California Airbnb management companies in your city to ensure compliance with these laws.
Top California Airbnb Management Companies
The best Airbnb management companies in California include:
- Awning: Best Overall California Airbnb Manager
- Vacasa California: Best for Furnished Vacation Rentals
- Evolve: Best for Actively Involved Hosts
- Blueground: Best for Long-Term Furnished Corporate Apartments
- RedAwning: Best for Half-Service
- Grand Welcome: Best for Luxury Vacation Rentals
- AvantStay: Best for Group-Travel Vacation Rentals
Top California Airbnb Management Companies by City
How We Researched the Top California Airbnb Management Companies
The criteria we used to select and rank the top Airbnb management companies in California include:
- Services: We looked at whether a company is a half-service or full-service provider and whether it provides all expected services within each category.
- Pricing: We considered whether an Airbnb property manager has a clear pricing structure covering all services. We also looked at what additional fees hosts will need to pay.
- Value for money: We evaluated whether the provided services and the expected fee offer the best value for money in California.
- Business model: We investigated whether a company uses the latest real estate technology while retaining the human touch, which is crucial in property management.
- Reviews: We took into consideration whether companies have a strong online presence and whether reviews are positive or negative.
- Number of listings in California: We searched for the Airbnb management companies with the most active listings in the California market.
To maximize your vacation rental investments in California, connect with an Awning property manager now.
How to Choose a California Airbnb Management Company
Choosing the best Airbnb management company is as important as buying a high-potential property for the success of your rental business. This is crucial in a market like California where many cities impose strict short-term rental regulations and restrictions.
When making this decision, focus on the same criteria that we used in our ranking of the top California Airbnb management companies:
- Services: Do you want to be involved in the management of your property (half-service is better) or do you aim for completely passive income (full-service is a must)? What services do you expect the Airbnb manager to provide and what would you like to do yourself? Is your property furnished and ready to welcome guests or do you need help with this?
- Pricing: How much are you willing to pay for a fully passive investment experience or some extra help in managing your vacation rental?
- Value for money: Compare the list of services provided by a few different property management companies and the fees they charge including the monthly fee and additional charges.
- Business model: Would you rather work with a nationwide or local property manager? Do you expect national accountability or local, personal touch? Does the company seem honest and transparent?
- Reviews: Check out online reviews by both property owners and guests. If possible, talk to a few local investors working with each property manager you consider.
- Number of listings in California: Go for a company that has an established presence in the California market but is not oversaturated/understaffed. You want to hire an experienced professional with enough local capacity.
When interviewing a few top choices for a California short-term rental property management company, ask the following questions:
- Are you a local property manager or a nationwide company?
- For how many years have you been managing short-term rentals?
- How many properties do you manage at the moment?
- How big is your local team?
- Do you have an in-house local management team or do you work with vendors?
- By how much are you able to increase revenue in the local market?
- Do you help get properties ready? Do you help with interior design, furnishing, short-term rental licenses and permits, and taxes?
- Do you collect money from guests and remit to owners or do booking fees go to the property owner directly?
- Do you provide cleaning, laundry, and restocking?
- Do you conduct property inspections and maintenance work?
- Do you manage swimming pools and hot tubs?
- What is your Airbnb property management fee? What does this cover? Are there any additional fees and costs? Is there an onboarding and/or early-termination fee?
- Can I review a copy of the property management agreement?
- How can I cancel your services?
- Do I get to keep my property reviews if I opt out?
Knowing the answers to these questions is key for selecting the best Airbnb property management company in California for your specific needs.
How Airbnb Management Works
There are two broad types of Airbnb property management companies: full-service and half-service.
Full-service property managers are those that take care of all the aspects of owning and running a short-term rental business. They help:
- Get properties ready (interior design, furnishing, linen, insurance, getting licenses and permits, and setting up transient occupancy taxes)
- Create, optimize, distribute, and market listings
- Manage all day-to-day tasks (cleaning, restocking, and laundry)
- Take care of guests (communication, check-ins and check-outs, and support)
- Manage finances (adjust daily rates, optimize occupancy, boost revenue, report finances, and collect and remit taxes)
- Take care of properties (inspections, maintenance, and repairs)
The best full-service Airbnb management companies help investors achieve passive income while boosting performance.
Half-service Airbnb property managers usually focus on listings, marketing, revenue management, guest communication and support, and taxes. Some of them offer to connect property owners with vetted local vendors for the services they do not cover.
Vacation rental property management companies can be national (covering most US markets) or local (focusing on a specific city). Both come with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Property management fees range widely in the US market: between 10% and 50% of revenue, with 20-25% of revenue being the average for full-service providers. Some companies charge different rates for different markets and different property types. Property managers frequently charge extra for services outside the core package, like interior design, furnishing, insurance, linen, etc.
The top vacation rental management companies have flexible terms and do not require long-term commitment on behalf of property owners. However, some expect quarterly or annual commitments.
Some Airbnb property managers focus on specific property types, like luxury rentals, group travel rentals, apartments, etc., while others work with most residential properties. Different companies have different eligibility requirements; for example, half-service property managers work with furnished short term rentals, while some full-service companies prefer to be directly involved in design and furnishing.
One thing property owners should keep in mind is that most Airbnb management companies list rentals under their brand name, so they lose the reviews and rankings once they leave. A noticeable exception is Awning, which allows properties to keep reviews.
How to Start an Airbnb in California
In order to start an Airbnb business in California, investors need to:
- Choose the best city (where Airbnb is legal, and return is high)
- Find a high-potential property
- Make sure the zoning district allows short-term rentals
- Hire an agent to help them purchase the property
- Renovate the property (if needed)
- Furnish the rental
- Select a business structure
- File tax and employer identification documents
- Get local short-term rental licenses and permits by city (California does not require state-level short-term rental registration)
- Decide if you want to hire an Airbnb management company (the best property managers can help you with steps 5-7 and 9) or manage your property on your own
- List your property and start renting out
- Provide ongoing services to guests and property maintenance and upkeep
Whether you decide to manage your California vacation rental on your own or to hire a property manager will determine if you get to enjoy passive rental income or not.
California Airbnb Laws and Regulations
California short-term rental laws define a short-term rental as the renting out of a residential dwelling or a portion of it for up to 30 consecutive days. Most California cities adopt this definition.
The State of California does not have state-wide Airbnb regulations and does not require state licenses and permits. So, Airbnbs are legal at the state level. However, most cities in California have imposed very strict regulations and requirements.
Here are the California cities with the most restrictive short-term rental laws:
- Los Angeles: Short-term rentals are legal in the host’s primary residence only (where a host lives for over six months per calendar year) and for only 120 days per year unless an extended home sharing approval is obtained. It also prohibited Airbnb in some residential zones. Registration of home sharing is a must.
- Palm Springs: They limited Short term rentals to a maximum of 32 guest stays per calendar year, with an additional four guest stays in July-September, for 36 guest stays in a year. A Vacation Rental or Homeshare Registration Certificate is required.
- Mammoth Lakes: Recently, issuing new short-term rental permits for single family residential units was temporarily suspended. Airbnb is legal only in certain land use designations.
- San Diego: Non-owner occupied short-term rentals are severely limited outside the Mission Beach Community Planning Area. A city license is needed.
- Oakland: Short-term rentals are defined as Bed and Breakfast Residential Activities and are limited to owner-occupied properties only. Most residential and commercial zones prohibit them altogether. Rentals need to be registered with the City.
- Long Beach: A person can operate up to one owner-occupied and one non-owner occupied short-term rental. Short-term rental registration with the City is required.
- South Lake Tahoe: No new licenses for vacation home rentals will be issued in residential areas. Operating an Airbnb in a non-residential area requires a permit.
- North Lake Tahoe: The total number of non-owner occupied short-term rental unit permits has been capped at 3,900.
- Temecula: Short-term rentals are prohibited, including both entire homes and rooms.
- Irvine: Short-term rentals are illegal in all residential zones and zoning districts where residential uses are (conditionally) permitted.
California Airbnb hosts are expected to pay transient occupancy tax, and the rate varies by county and city. In many California cities, local transient taxes are collected and remitted by the online listing platforms (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.). Still, investors need to file for tax and employer identification documentation at the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration and the IRS, respectively.
Owning an Airbnb business in California is one of the best ways to make money in the US real estate market. However, because of the strict regulations and the tough competition, it’s crucially important to optimize your short-term rental property management. A good way to do this is to hire a professional property manager.
Awning is the best California Airbnb management company in all cities as it provides full-service management at an industry-low fee of 15% of revenue. Evolve and RedAwning are viable options for investors who’d like to be involved in the management of their property. Blueground is worth checking out if you invest in longer-term furnished corporate apartments.
Awning is the top California property management company offering end-to-end services for Airbnb investors. Our services include 24/7 guest communication, dynamic pricing, calendar management, and more, and are available in all 50 states. Plus, our fees start at just 15% of your revenue, with no extra charges or fees. Call or text 415-223-2830 to learn more and get started.