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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Supervisors approve rules on short-term rentals

The Board of Supervisors meets in the Fairfax County Government Center.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved zoning rules July 31 allowing property owners to rent out homes for short-term lodging through such online platforms as Airbnb, VRBO, and FlipKey.

Those types of rentals are illegal in the county, although officials estimate there are at least 1,500 active, online listings for short-term lodging. Up to now, zoning rules only permitted transient occupancy – in hotels and bed-and-breakfasts – for no more than 30 days.


A state law that went into effect last year affirmed local governments’ authority to regulate short-term lodging.

The board’s action comes two weeks after a lengthy public hearing with dozens of people speaking on both sides of the issue. Some people spoke in favor of the right to earn an extra income, while others argued that allowing short-term rents would lead to more traffic, noise, and transients on quiet streets.

According to BoS Chair Sharon Bulova, the new rules aim to “strike the right balance between allowing short-term rentals to operate in Fairfax County under certain circumstances, while protecting the character and quiet enjoyment of residential neighborhoods.”

The new regulations give HOAs and community associations the authority to prohibit short-term lodging within their jurisdictions.

The new rules take effect Oct. 1. Starting on that date, short-term lodging operators must apply for a new $200 two-year zoning permit.

Short-term rentals will be allowed up to 60 days per calendar year in single-family homes, townhouses, condos, mobile homes, and apartments with these limitations:
  • Owners or renters must be permanent residents of the property they are offering for short-term lodging. This rule is designed to prevent businesses from operating multiple, full-time rentals, such as a hotel or motel, in residential neighborhoods.
  • Guests would be limited to six adults, the lodgers must all be associated with the same rental contract, and only one contract per night is allowed. This provision would prevent multiple rentals of a property by unrelated groups at the same time.
  • Operators must identify an authorized agent, who will be available in addition to the operator, to address problems that arise while a property is being rented.
  • Operators must have one designated parking space available for lodgers.
  • Regardless of where posted, advertisements must include an operator’s short-term lodging permit number and identify the location of the required parking space and any other available parking.
  • Properties may not be rented for events or commercial purposes like parties, weddings, or fundraisers.
  • Properties must be made available for inspection by county code enforcement inspectors upon request, and properties must comply with state building safety rules.
Despite the widespread availability of short-term rentals already operating in the county, zoning officials say they have received only 80 complaints about these properties.

Operators of short-term lodging will be required to pay transient occupancy taxes, which county leaders estimate will generate about $428,268 a year. About $249,800 from these revenues would go to the county’s budget fund, and the remaining amount would be used to support tourism and regional transportation as required by state law.

21 comments:

Jon said...

Of course only 80 people filed complaints. These are the few that haven’t learned by now that the Department of Code Compliance is a sham. Its job is to occupy the space that a real code enforcement department would occupy and barely do its job so that our profoundly corrupt Board of Supervisors could loot the county. What has happened to districts like Mason District did not just happen. There are very good reasons to believe our Supervisors planned to drive older residents out of their and their businesses out of our business districts neighborhoods by withholding enforcement in order to give developers and bankers both cheap labor and a pay to play land use system. If that looks a lot like ethnic cleansing, it probably is. Motels in neighborhoods? Seriously? How else do you get to that?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Jon. This looks like a ploy to raise tax money for the county. Imagining that the county will actually enforce these rules is wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

The General Assembly authorized local jurisdiction to approve, regulate or prohibit STRs. By a 6/4 vote the BOS voted to approve STRs leaving a number of issues unresolved.

Can more than one homeowner or tenant of an individual property rent
out the premises for 60 days?

While the number of adults is limited to 6, why is there no limit on the number of children 18 years and younger?

Who will ensure that a registered agent is available when the owner or tenant is absent, that properties comply with current safety regulations, that parking and events are controlled and that neighbors complaints will be addressed? Will additional County staff be assigned to manage STRs? What would be the financial benefit to the County after these expenses are calculated?

The BOS may have acted hastily without considering the scope and complexity of the issue or the negative effects of allowing an unlimited number of commercial operations in residential neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jon and anonymous 5:23 and 8:03, this is the further destruction of residential neighborhoods, especially Mason District.

Anonymous said...

"The new regulations give HOAs and community associations the authority to prohibit short-term lodging within their jurisdictions."

As usual, this ruling bones anyone living in a community built before the prevalence of “community associations” (which are pretty toothless) and HOAs. These older communities are of course prevalent in Mason District. The county does not care one whit about the welfare of anyone living in a non-HOA controlled community; this is the county sanctioning high-occupancy boarding houses in our neighborhoods.

David said...

Why must a designated parking space be made available to lodgers? What if they don't have a car? Why does the county assume that every single person living or staying in the county is traveling in their own private automobile?

Anonymous said...

Do you really believe that 6 adults and x number of 18 year olds and younger would travel without at least one car?

If only....

Anonymous said...

I missed the sentence where it said every group would be that large? I also missed the part where publicly subsidized on-street parking is only for long-term residents.

Anonymous said...

According to the legislation there can be up to 6 adults with no limit on the number of children 18 years or younger. This was spelled out by County staff at public meetings.

There is no specific language as to where the designated parking place is to be.

Cabin Dan said...

My neighborhood is rife with large groups of people renting small, 3-bedroom ramblers. Some of the houses have 12 automobiles parked in the driveways, on the street, in the yards, and at the neighbors (for some reason my frontage, which is several houses remote from the rental houses, seems to attract many of the overflow automobiles). This latest law provides an easy way to increase instances of this type of living; it actually makes it legal. Great for actual Airbnb operators who try to attract legit customers, but overall this is not an enhancement for Annandale's older communities.

Anonymous said...

Cabin Dan, this is my issue as well, it is the small single family houses with multiple-families, with multiple-cars etc. not airbnb operators who might have multiple guests 2 to 4 with one car.

Anonymous said...

Right...is it on street parking (which is already overflowing in many of our communities)? on premise? This whole ruling is an effing joke.

Anonymous said...

This is what will play out: 6 adults and 18 kids in a small single family house in Mason. A neighbor calls code compliance to file a complaint. Code compliance goes to the residence in question and sees all these people and asks if they are from an airbnb. Of course they don't speak english and say yes. Code compliance calls the complaining neighbor back and says they are airbnb, nothing we can do, their legal. The frustrated neighbor moves out of Mason to a more middle class area in Vienna. And that is the story of Mason Matters..........NOT!

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to the 31 July hearing for anyone who is interested in watching our elected officials sell out our neighborhoods - http://video.fairfaxcounty.gov/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1133. What we need to do as a community is stop being concerned about "D" and "R" labels, at least at the local level, and elect officials who care about our neighborhoods. Unfortunately, we seem to re-elect the same sclerotic leadership year after year no matter how often they demonstrate that they've lost their way. The STR reg is a joke. As others have pointed out, you can drive a truck through the supposed protections and code enforcement, as we all know, is a joke in the county. Sad, really.

Anonymous said...

The voters need to clean out the attic and get rid of all the BoS, regardless of party. They are stagnant, lack vision and are making the county grovel on its knees. They amount to nothing more than a Board of Shame.........VOTE THEM OUT.

Anonymous said...

Penny Gross is up for re-election, I believe, in 2019. Mason voters will therefore have an opportunity to vote for a fresh start. Let's just hope we don't wind up with a reprise of 2015.

Adam Goldberg said...

Middle class can’t afford a single family home in Vienna lol

Anonymous said...

You must be one of those landlords renting to dozens of illegals and packing them in like sardines. What is your street address? Let me call code compliance. You will answer the door when they come by, you will say que pasa, they will leave like flies from a bug spray and that will be chapter 2 in Mason Doesn't Matter.

Adam Goldberg said...

what the bloody hell are you going on about

Anonymous said...

And 2011, 2007, 2003, 1999 and 1995. Enough of the Penny machine.

Anonymous said...

I would be happy to see someone with some actual muscle go up against Penny. Honestly--no sarcasm. There has to be someone out there who could taker her on as a serious, viable opponent.

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