The ordinance to revise the Short-Term Rentals regulations (Ordinance No. 2023-235) was adopted by City Council on September 25, 2023.
The ordinance permits short-term rentals as a principal or accessory use to a dwelling unit or permitted accessory dwelling unit under the following conditions:
- Who can operate a short-term rental: The short-term rental operator shall be the property owner. In a residential zoning district, the short-term rental shall be on the lot of the operator’s primary residence, as determined by the records of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles or the Office of the Registrar of the City of Richmond.
- Number of Short-Term Rentals on a lot: Only one short-term rental shall be permitted on any lot in a residential zoning district.
- Multifamily Buildings: In non-residential zoning districts, a maximum of ten or one-third of the dwelling units in the multifamily building, whichever is lesser, on the lot shall be permitted as short-term rentals.
- Approval Process: A Short-Term Rental Permit is to be obtained on a biennial basis. The Biennial Fee for the STR Permit is $600 which is intended to cover administration and monitoring costs. Each STR Permit shall be active for two years after the date of issuance.
- Advertising: The Short-Term Rental Permit approval number shall be posted on all advertisements for the property.
- Number of nights a short-term rental can operate: The number of nights a short-term rental can operate is not limited.
- Number of persons who can rent per night: The total number of adult renters (at least one being 18 years of age or older) allowed in a short-term rental shall be limited to eight adults. Double booking which consists of more than one booking transaction occurring at the same time is not allowed. The number of children per rental is not limited. Occupancy may be further limited under the Building Code.
- Unhosted vs. Hosted Stays: This legislation does not distinguish between hosted and unhosted stays; whole house rentals (unhosted stays) are permitted in all zones as the operator is not required to be on site during the stay.
- Safety Requirements: Smoke detectors shall be present in compliance with the current edition of the Virginia Residential Construction Code. A fire extinguisher shall be present and be accessible at all times. Carbon monoxide detectors shall be present in any room used for sleeping or cooking.
- Parking: No additional parking is required for the short-term rental use.
- Events: Events and gatherings of persons other than the authorized lodgers are prohibited from occurring at the short-term rental.
Beginning July 1, 2020, applicants can apply for a Short-Term Rental Permit through the City’s Online Permit Portal. Required documentation to apply includes the following:
- Short-Term Rental Owner Affidavit acknowledging compliance with the rules for operating a short-term rental (See Supporting Documentation in the Online Permit Portal for a copy of the Short-Term Rental Owner Affidavit)
- A dimensioned floor plan of the layout of the dwelling unit, on which the following are labeled:
1. the use of each room;
2. the occupancy level of sleeping rooms;
3. the cooking facilities, if applicable;
4. the location and size of emergency egress and rescue openings; and
5. the location of fire extinguishers and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Proof of Primary Residency: See the Owner Affidavit for required documentation.
Prior to issuance of the Certificate of Zoning Compliance for the Short-Term Rental Permit, an inspection of the building, structure or premises shall be required in order to verify conformance with applicable regulations (Sec. 30-1020.3 of City Code).
If you are aware of a property operating a Short-Term Rental without a Short-Term Rental Permit or in violation of the rules for operating a short-term rental, contact the Zoning Administration office via telephone at (804) 646-6340 or send an email to: PDRZoningAdministration@rva.gov. Additionally, complaints can be submitted via RVA311.
Please provide a detailed description of the violation and an accurate property address. Once an alleged violation is reported to our office, it is assigned to enforcement staff for investigation by researching records and, if necessary, performing an on-site inspection. If our office determines that a property violates a zoning requirement, a Violation Notice & Correction Order is sent to the owner and/or occupant of the property. The violator is normally given thirty (30) days to abate the violation, as Virginia law requires a 30-day appeal period. If a violation is not abated or an appeal filed, a summons may be issued for criminal court. Violation of the Zoning Ordinance is a Class I misdemeanor, subject up to a $2,500 fine and/or up to a year in jail.
Short-term rental (STR) is the transient occupancy of a dwelling unit for a period of less than 30 consecutive days. These rentals are often advertised and processed through online platforms and include both the rental of a whole house or only a room or rooms within a house. Prior to the approval of Ordinance No. 2019-343, short-term rentals were not identified as a permitted use in the City’s Zoning Ordinance and have been authorized through the approval of Special Use Permits.
In 2017, the General Assembly passed SB 1578 which preserves the ability for localities to establish local regulations and allows for the creation of a registry for short term rentals. In response to this enabling legislation, Planning and Development Review (PDR) convened an internal working group of directors and staff from PDR, Finance, and the City Attorney’s Office to establish regulations to permit short term rentals under certain terms and conditions. PDR obtained community input on the proposed regulations, which were drafted after a review of legislation in other localities and of the current operations of short term rentals in the City of Richmond. A survey was conducted from 3/26/19 to 5/31/19 which asked participants’ opinions on the conditions included in the draft zoning regulations. The internal working group amended the draft legislation based on the survey results and public input received.
- Online Survey on Short-Term Rentals Regulation [Survey closed on 5/31/2019]
- Summary of Survey Responses
- All Survey Responses
PDR staff hosted two public meetings on the draft STR regulations:
- Public Meeting #1: Saturday, May 4, 2019, from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in the basement auditorium of the Main Library, 101 East Franklin Street
- Public Meeting #2: Tuesday, May 14, 2019 from 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Richmond Central DMV, 2300 West Broad Street
Additionally, PDR staff attended the following meetings to present on STRs:
- Councilwoman Newbille’s 7th District Meeting: Tuesday, March 26, 2019, from 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Richmond East District Initiative Government Services Building, 701 North 25th Street
- Councilwoman Larson’s 4th District Meeting: Thursday, March 28, 2019, from 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Huguenot Community Center, 7945 Forest Hill Avenue
- Councilwoman Gray’s 2nd District Meeting: Tuesday, April 9, 2019, from 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, 2401 West Leigh Street
- Councilman Jones 9th District Meeting: Thursday, April 18, 2019, from 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the South Side Community Center, 6255 Old Warwick Road
- Councilwoman Robertson’s 6th District Meeting: Tuesday, April 23, 2019, from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at the Main Library, 101 East Franklin Street
- Councilman Addison’s 1st District Meeting: Wednesday, April 24, 2019, from 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at Mary Munford Elementary School, 211 Westmoreland Avenue
- Councilman Hilbert’s 3rd District Meeting: Thursday, April 25th, 2019, from 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at Fire Station 14, 2934 Hawthorne Avenue
- Councilman Agelasto’s 5th District Meeting: Thursday, April 25th, 2019, from 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at Swansboro Elementary School, 3160 Midlothian Turnpike
- Councilwoman Trammell’s 8th District Meeting: Thursday, May 16, 2019, from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at the Satellite Restaurant & Lounge, 4000 Jefferson Davis Highway