New Restrictions on Short-Term Lodging in Fairfax County Effective October 1, 2018

New Restrictions on Short-Term Lodging in Fairfax County Effective October 1, 2018


Recent changes to the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance provide more onerous requirements for short-term lodging in residential dwellings.  Under the Zoning Ordinance, short-term lodging is the renting of a room or space that is suitable or intended for transient occupancy (i.e., occupancy for fewer than 30 consecutive nights), in exchange for a fee.  Prior to October 1, 2018, short-term lodging was only permitted in Fairfax County with a special exception approved by the Board of Supervisors.

In response to the proliferation of short-term rental websites (e.g., Airbnb, VRBO) and the increased interest in short-term lodging, the Board of Supervisors amended the Zoning Ordinance to more directly address short-term lodging with specific limitations and restrictions.  Effective October 1, 2018, short-term lodging is now permitted in any zoning district that allows residential use, subject to the issuance of a short-term lodging permit and other requirements set out in § 10-105 of the Zoning Ordinance.

Specific Limitations on Short-Term Lodging in Fairfax County:

  • Short-term lodging cannot exceed 60 nights per year.
  • Maximum number of overnight lodgers is six adults.
  • Maximum number of rental contracts per night is one.
  • Events and activities (e.g., weddings and meetings) are prohibited.
  • Must have one designated parking space, which the operator has authority to reserve for short-term lodging purposes.
  • Advertisements must include the short-term lodging permit number and identify the location of the designated parking space and other available parking or public transportation options.

Short-Term Lodging Operator Requirements:

  • Must be a permanent resident of the property. If the operator is a tenant, the operator must obtain written consent from the owner to allow short-term lodging.
  • Operator assumes responsibility for determining whether any laws, regulations, or covenants prohibit short-term lodging.
  • Must designate at least one person to serve as authorized agent for the operator.
  • A guest log must include the name, address and telephone number of all overnight lodgers and is subject to inspection by Fairfax County.
  • Must file a monthly tax return and remit the Transient Occupancy Tax collected for each rental contract.

Requirements for Property used for Short-Term Lodging:

  • Upon request, the dwelling must be open for inspection by the County.
  • Must comply with the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.
  • When required for a fireplace or gas service, the dwelling must have a working multi-purpose fire extinguisher, interconnected smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Each sleeping room must have a plan posted inside its door showing the pathway to the nearest exit.

Short-term lodging owners and operators are still subject to any applicable federal, state, and local laws, including the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act and the Virginia Condominium Act.  In addition, short-term lodging owners and operators are still subject to an association’s covenants, bylaws, and rules or regulations.  Ultimately, owners and operators are responsible for determining whether their property can be lawfully used for short-term lodging and for complying with the relevant laws, covenants, rules and regulations, including the new provisions of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding residences being used as short-term rentals in your association, please do not hesitate to call our office to discuss.

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