ISSUE: The Recently Adopted Short-Term Rental Ordinance

FACT: City Council passed an ordinance regulating the operations of short-term rentals that requires owners to register their properties and meet a number of criteria. A conditional use permit is required for all properties except those in Sandbridge.​
After years of debate, public input and weighing numerous courses of action, City Council adopted an ordinance on January 15, 2019, to regulate short-term rentals. This specifically refers to those situations in which a portion of a home, or the entire dwelling, are rented for fewer than 30 consecutive days.

Previously, there were no regulations in place. In fact, short-term rentals like what you can find on AirBnB or VRBO were not legal. Still, they were being offered throughout Virginia Beach. At the heart of the ordinance is the need for a conditional use permit, or CUP. Except as noted below, all property owners must obtain a CUP in order to use residences they own as short-term rentals.

There are a couple of exceptions to the need for a CUP. Legislation passed by the state (HB 824) exempts the Sandbridge neighborhood from any regulations passed by the City.

Any property that was registered with the Commissioner of Revenue’s office prior to July 1, 2018 will be grandfathered into the new ordinance and not require a CUP to operate However, the grandfather clause will cease if the owner ever stops renting the property, or if the overall square footage of the property is increased by 25% or 1,000 square feet, whichever is less.

When considering how to move forward, City Council had to balance the wants and needs of those renting out their homes and the neighbors. The goal is to allow the practice to continue, but with regulations in place to preserve the quality of our neighborhoods for everyone.

To that end, in addition to obtaining a CUP, those using their property as a short-term rental must:
    • Provide one parking space per bedroom
    • Provide the name and phone number of a responsible party to address any problem within 30 minutes of being reported
    • Pay all applicable taxes and maintain registration status
    • And maintain $1 million dollars of liability insurance
    • A special event permit is required for events with more than 50 people, with a maximum of three per year
    • No more than 2 contracts are permitted within 7 consecutive days
    • The total overnight occupancy of the home cannot be more than three persons per bedroom
    • All laws pertaining to safety, such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, must be followed
Home sharing operators follow the same set of rules, and are present during the rental period, follow the same set of rules, but do not require a CUP.

For more information about the ordinance, as well as a summary of and the full text of the new rules, please visit If you have specific questions about your property, or how the rules are applied, please call the Zoning Administration Office at 385-8074.

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