Short Term & Vacation Rental Overview

Short-Term Rental Overview

Washington DC holds a unique position among real estate markets and destination cities. Here you’ll find consistent, ongoing demand year-round with frequent periods of exceptionally robust tourist activity. That makes it an ideal location for Short-term and Vacation Rentals.

Analysts project more than 5100 Short-term and Vacation Rentals in the District in the near term. In order to spell out the requirements for licensure, a new law called the Short-Term Rental Regulation Act of 2018 (14 DCMR Section 9901.6) has been put into place. 

Whether you’re using your DC property or accommodation for Short-term Rental or Vacation Rental, it’s vital to ensure that you are in compliance with DCRA (Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs) rules and regulations.

Am I required to get a license?
All Short-Term and Vacation Rental property owners must obtain a DCRA license. Failure to do so will result in enforcement actions, including fines. 
 
What are the other requirements for a Short-Term/Vacation Rental license? 
  • Your Clean Hands Certificate from the District’s Office of Tax and Revenue (in the property owner’s name and dated within the prior 30 days)
  • Proof of liability insurance (minimum $250,000 in coverage)
  • Your completed attestation form if your property is part of an association (HOA, condo, co-op)
  • Payment of licensure fees
  • The rental property MUST include unobstructed egress, working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and a portable fire extinguisher.
  • The host MUST provide a number for 24-hour phone access so that they, or their representative, can be contacted in the event of an emergency.
  • The host MUST post the Short-term Rental or Vacation Rental License inside the property in a clear and conspicuous location.
  • Applicable transient lodging taxes collected by the booking portal must be paid as required.
  • Records of each Short-term or Vacation Rental booking must be retained for a period of two years.
  • Investment properties and residential properties owned by corporate entities are not eligible for licensure under this program. 
What is the difference between a Short-Term Rental and a Vacation Rental?

Short-Term Rentals (STR) are accommodations that are offered 

  • For a fee
  • Within a host’s home 
  • While the host is present. 

As long as the host is in residence, DC law places no limit on the number of individual stays allowed during a calendar year. However, each stay is limited to 30 or fewer consecutive nights. 

If your plan is to offer your entire property for Short-term rental 

  • For a fee
  • Within your home
  • Without being in residence

your lodging would be considered a Vacation Rental

Unlike Short-term Rentals, Vacation Rentals are limited to a total of 90 nights in a calendar year with each individual stay limited to 30 or fewer consecutive nights. The 90-day limit can be exceeded only if you apply for an exception to (1) leave town for work or (2) care for a close relative temporarily.

Do I need more than one license if I have multiple Short-Term Rentals on my property?
You only need one license for your property, regardless of the number of rooms you make available for rental. However, if you plan to offer both Short-term and Vacation Rentals, you need both licenses. If you want to offer rentals of 31 or more consecutive days you need a regular rental property license. If your property is a single-family home, condo or coop see our article Single-Family Home, Condo, Coop (One Family) Rental Overview or if your property is a 2-unit property see our article Two-Family (2-Unit) Rental Overview which discusses the regular rental property license process.
 
What is a 'primary residence'?
A primary residence is one in which the owner is eligible for the Homestead Exemption. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which include English basements, are considered part of the primary residence if you are eligible for the Homestead deduction.
Do I need a Clean Hands Certificate on my property?

Yes, you need a Certificate of Clean Hands from the DC Office of Tax and Revenue. This must include your name and must be issued within 30 days prior to your license application. This stipulates that you do not owe the District of Columbia more than $100 for fees, fines, taxes, or penalties and that you have filed required District tax returns.

Is there a limit on how many guests I can have in my Short-Term Rental?
Yes. Occupancy is limited to a maximum of eight guests total or two guests per bedroom, whichever number is greater.
Who is allowed to be a host?
Only a person can be a host. Business entities (e.g. LLC, S-Corp or C-Corp) are not considered persons and cannot operate a Short-term or Vacation Rental.
Does a Short-Term/Vacation Rental require a housing inspection?

No, however you are required to attest that your property complies with the DC Municipal Housing Code and Property Maintenance Code.

What is the fee for a Short-Term/Vacation Rental license?

For either the Short-term Rental or Vacation Rental license, the total fee is $104.50 for two years. This represents the application and administrative fees including a $70 processing fee, $25 endorsement fee, and 10% platform fee.
How long is a Short-Term/Vacation Rental license valid?
The license is valid for two years and can be renewed upon payment of the required fee.
Are Short-Term/Vacation Rentals allowed to operate in my neighborhood?

As long as you have a valid license, Short-term and Vacation Rentals are allowed to operate in any DC neighborhood.

Are Short-Term Rental hosts required to provide off-street parking?

No. However, guests must observe any residential parking restrictions. In addition, guests are barred from using a resident’s annual visitor parking permit.

Are Short-Term/Vacation Rentals allowed in condominium buildings?

Short-term and Vacation Rentals are allowed in condominium buildings if you can attest that the governing board or association (including bylaws, house rules or other documents) 

  • Allows Short-term and/or Vacation Rentals
  • Does not prohibit Short-term and/or Vacation Rentals
  • Has given you written permission to operate a Short-term and/or Vacation Rental at your address.
Where can I confirm that a Short-Term or Vacation Rental property is licensed?
You can find the status of a Short-term or Vacation Rental License using  Scout, DCRA’s online verification platform. Your rental portal is required to list the host’s license number as part of the listing.
Can a host hold both an STR and bed and breakfast license?

No, a host can only hold a license in one category, not both. If you have a previous B&B license, you must cancel it in order to obtain an STR license. Contact DCRA’s Business Licensing Division and Office of the Zoning Administrator for more details.

Full Regulations
You can view the full regulations for Short-Term and Vacation Rentals in the District of Columbia here.
Can RentJiffy help you obtain your DC Short-term Rental or Vacation Rental License?
At this time, RentJiffy is not assisting with the short-term rental or vacation rental licenses. You must apply for these licenses directly with DCRA.

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