On December 10, 2016, and January 28, 2017, the County Board adopted new Zoning Ordinance regulations that define a short-term residential rental as a new home occupation called “accessory homestay” and creates standards for this use to allow it in units used by either the owner or a renter as his/her primary dwelling. The regulations affect short-term rentals through online services such as Airbnb, Craigslist, VRBO and other similar services. The new regulations went into effect on December 31, 2016.
Apply now for an Accessory homestay permit.
At this time, there is no fee for an accessory home permit. Fees are proposed as part of the fiscal year 2018 budget, which would become effective on July 1, 2017.
Standards for allowing accessory homestay
- Allowed in units used by the owner or a renter as his/her primary residence (the resident of the dwelling occupies the unit at least 185 days of the year)
- May use the entire home, including accessory dwellings
- May host the larger of either six lodgers, or two lodgers per number of bedrooms in the unit per night (but no more than allowed by Building Code)
- Will not be allowed in detached accessory buildings
- Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and where applicable, carbon monoxide detectors, must be provided and accessible to all overnight lodgers
- Does not authorize use of the home for any other commercial use such as parties, banquets, weddings, meetings, charitable fund raising, commercial or advertising activities or any other gatherings for direct or indirect compensation
- All Building Code requirements must be met
- Multiple-family buildings. In December, 2016, the Building Official had indicated that based on preliminary research, it was probable that the accessory homestay use would not be allowed in most existing multiple-family buildings in the County under the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (Building Code). This initial determination was based on recent experience with an apartment building that had requested use of some units for long-term use as transient units (e.g. for use for stays of less than 30 days) by an entity who did not use the unit as a permanent residence. However, after further investigation, including discussions with other Building Officials around the state, the Building Official has determined that the Building Code for condominium and apartment use emphasizes that the primary use (more than 50% of the time) of units in these buildings is permanent residence, and this aligns with the recently adopted zoning requirements for short term rental. Therefore, permits for accessory homestay in multiple-family buildings may be issued to applicants who meet all zoning requirements.
- Residents of multiple-family buildings may be subject to additional rules or restrictions related to accessory homestay use, imposed and enforced by condominium or homeowners’ associations.
The County Board authorized advertisement of the proposed amendments at its October 15, 2016 meeting. Staff conducted a broad outreach process to better understand community sentiment on this issue. Hundreds of Arlington community members participated in an online feedback form, an open house on November 2, a Virtual Q&A on November 3 and spoke at public hearings. The regulations were informed by the public input received.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Zoning elements considered with community review
- Online feedback responses (Nov. 15, 2016)
- Feedback summary (graphic) (Nov. 15, 2016)
- Comments received from community engagement meetings (Dec. 1, 2016)
- Virtual Q&A Transcript
In recent years, rental services in the online marketplace have become more prevalent in Arlington, and nationwide. In recent months leading up to the adoption of regulations, the zoning office had received both complaints about short-term residential rentals, and inquiries from residents looking for a legal path to host this type of use in their homes. The use of private homes for short-term residential rental was not previously permitted by the Zoning Ordinance.
The new use is defined as a home occupation called “accessory homestay,” and allows an owner to rent out his/her home for lodging purposes on a short-term basis. The purpose of the regulations is to:
- Protect the character of Arlington’s neighborhoods;
- Reduce barriers for those who are, or intend to, use their homes through online services for short-term rental (e.g. Airbnb, Craigslist, etc.) in a legal and responsible manner;
- Implement safety requirements to ensure that a short-term residential rental property complies with zoning, building, fire and other safety codes that are designed to protect public health and safety, property values and neighborhood character; and
- Provide a mechanism for enforcement of this type of use if problems arise.
The amendment does not preclude a condominium or homeowners’ association from establishing its own rules about allowing (consistent with County regulations), further restricting, or prohibiting this type of activity.
The review of this issue was prompted by the 2016 Virginia General Assembly’s consideration of legislation that would have precluded local governments from regulating this use, bringing state-wide attention to consideration of how short-term residential rental services are or should be regulated. It would also have kept the identity of short-term rental properties hidden and precluded local governments from collecting and auditing Transient Occupancy Taxes, as they would for any other lodging property. A version of the legislation passed in the 2016 session, but the Governor referred it to the Virginia Housing Commission to study and create draft legislation for consideration in the 2017 session. The Virginia Housing Commission created the Short-Term Rental Work Group for this purpose.
- County Seeks Input on Short-term Residential Rental Regulations – News Release, Oct. 15, 2016
- Arlington to Ask Public to Weigh-in on Short-Term Residential Rental Ordinance– News Release, Sept. 27, 2016
- County Board Wrap-Up, Sept. 2016 (video on this topic begins about 22:47)
|Date/Time*||Event and Materials|
|Sept. 27||County Board directs the County Manager to develop a proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment and community outreach plan|
|Oct. 15||Board approves a Request to Advertise for public hearings on a proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment
Request to Advertise Report
|Oct. 19||ZOCO (Zoning Committee of the Planning Commission) Memorandum|
|Oct. 27||Housing Commission Memorandum|
|Nov. 1||Civic Federation Memorandum|
|Nov. 2||Chamber of Commerce Memorandum|
|Nov. 2||Public Open House|
|Nov. 3||Virtual Q&A Transcript|
|Nov. 8||Economic Development Commission Presentation|
|Nov. 15||ZOCO (Zoning Committee of the Planning Commission) Presentation|
|Nov. 21||Transportation Commission Memorandum|
|Nov. 22||Commission on Aging|
|Nov. 30||Public hearing: Planning Commission consideration of proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment (coverage begins at 51:00)|
|Dec. 10||Public hearing: County Board consideration of proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment (coverage begins at 1:14:30)|
|Jan. 28, 2017||Public hearing: County Board consideration of proposed revisions to accessory homestay regulations (coverage begins at 1:01:30)|
* All meeting dates are 2016