|This three-bedroom guesthouse on Hummer Road in Annandale is available on Airbnb for $220 per night. [Airbnb]|
The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold its hearing on May 3, and the BoS hearing would be on June 19.
The county has been working on the new zoning rules over the past year, following a 2017 state law that allows local governments to regulate short-term rentals. The proposed rules are an attempt to balance neighborhood concerns with homeowners’ desires to earn rental income through the sharing economy.
Except for bed-and-breakfasts and hotels, the zoning ordinance doesn’t permit transient occupancy, which is defined as a rental of less than 30 days.
Here are the key provisions of the proposed rules:
- Property owners or renters could only offer their primary residence as short-term lodging. That would prevent businesses from operating multiple, full-time rentals, such as a hotel or motel, in residential neighborhoods.
- Guests would be limited to six adults, and the lodgers must all be associated with the same rental contract to prevent multiple rentals of a property at the same time.
- To protect neighborhoods, properties may not be rented for events or commercial purposes, such as parties, weddings, or fundraisers.
- A property could not be rented out on a short-term basis for more than 90 nights a year or 25 percent of a year.
- The Planning Commission and BoS will consider whether homeowners or renters must be present in their property when it is used as short-term lodging.
- Operators of short-term operators would have to get a permit, which could be revoked if there are violations, and properties must be made available for inspection by county code enforcement staff upon request.
If enacted, a new zoning ordinance on short-term rentals wouldn’t prohibit individual homeowners associations or community associations from establishing more stringent rules or even banning short-term rentals outright.
Operators of short-term rentals would be required to pay transient occupancy taxes. County leaders calculate that these rentals could generate about $428,000 a year. Of this amount, nearly $250,000 would go to the county’s coffers, and the remaining amount would be used to support tourism and regional transportation as required by state law.
In drafting the proposed rules, zoning officials engaged in extensive public input, the BoS states, including four community meetings and additional meetings with HOAs, civic groups, tourism professionals, real estate agents, and representatives from the short-term lodging and hotel industry. County staff also participated in a workgroup with other local jurisdictions that are considering or have adopted regulations, including Arlington, Alexandria, and Loudoun County. More than 7,600 people responded to an online survey.
In a separate issue, Fairfax County is considering whether to create zoning rules in the future for commercially managed apartment buildings that offer short-term lodging.