The Isaacs Team | Compass

After years of debate and lobbying by the hospitality industry, the DC Council passed legislation in late 2018 restricting short term rentals of residential property.


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Washington, DC has one of the strongest real estate markets in the nation, and a robust rental market. From an estimated 5,100 short-term and vacation rentals in 2002, the District began 2024 with 7,500+ active units and the national STRV market is projected to increase in 2024, according to AirDNA.

DC Short-Term & Vacation Rental Rules

If you’re purchasing investment property in Washington DC, or plan to dedicate a portion of your home to ‘house hacking’, be sure you understand recently instated short-term rental restrictions. You’ll need a special license, and, depending on the type of property involved and your status as an owner-occupant, you may be limited to the number of days per year you can share the premises.

About Short-Term Rental Licenses

There are two license types available to hosts in the District:

  1. Short-Term Rental License: As described above;
  2. Short-Term Rental: Vacation Rental License: DC “Vacation Rental” hosts may offer lodging for rent at a primary residence without being present on the property (full property rental), but the cumulative annual cap is 90 nights per calendar year, plus each rental is still limited to 30 or fewer continuous nights.

About Compliance

All properties must comply with the terms of DC’s Short-Term Rental Regulation Act of 2018 (14 DCMR Section 9901.6).

  • Short-term rental (STR) hosts may offer lodging for rent at a primary residence while the host resides on the property;
  • There is no limit to the quantity of stays during a calendar year if the host is present, however, each individual short-term rental is limited to 30 or fewer continuous nights;
  • All short-term and vacation rentals are limited to the host’s primary residence, which the law defines as a property for which the owner is eligible for the Homestead Tax Deduction. Only ‘natural’ persons are eligible for short-term rental licenses; business entities such as an LLCs or corporations are not eligible;
  • Short-Term rentals are allowed to operate in any neighborhood or zone within the District as long as the host has a valid Short-Term or Vacation Rental License;
  • Guests are allowed to park on public streets and must observe any residential parking restrictions. Guests are not considered a guest of a resident in the District’s annual Visitor Parking Pass program;
  • Hosts must obtain a Basic Business License with a short-term rental or vacation rental endorsement via the DLCP. Creation of a an Access DC account is required;
  • Proof of liability insurance with a minimum of $250,000 in coverage must be provided;
  • A Certificate of Clean Hands issued within the last 30 days in the property owner’s name must be obtained from the Office of Tax and Revenue;
  • The total cost for a two-year short-term rental license is $104.50, which includes a $70 processing fee, a $25 endorsement fee, plus a 10% “technology” fee.

Bullet Points

  • 7,500+ units in January 2024
  • Volume increases projected for 2024 (AirDNA) 
  • Revenue increases projected for 2024 U.S. market

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Non-Licensure Penalties

Failure to comply with the District’s short-term rental requirements may result in fines of up to $250 for the first violation, escalating up to $1,000 for a third violation.

Use the DC Scout online database to confirm the existence of a Short-Term Rental License. For further information and a list of Frequently Asked Questions visit DCRA.

History of the STR Regulation Act of 2018



Primary points of the 2018 bill:

The legislation requires those wishing to list a short term rental on Airbnb or other home sharing platforms to obtain a business license with a short-term rental endorsement;
Only primary residences can be rented short term and then only up to 90 days annually if the host isn’t present during the rental period. If owners are living in the home and want to list a portion of the home as a short term rental, there is no annual limit;
Rental housing conversions are prohibited;
Short term rentals will be subject to the 14.95% DC hotel tax;
A ‘dwelling unit’ does include an ‘accessory dwelling’ located in the basement of a single family dwelling;
Hosting platforms such as Airbnb must obtain a DC business license and display same for any DC listing. The platform is further required, prior to publishing a listing, to verify that the business license of the listing is ‘plausibly lawful’ and current, also that it matches a DC business license with a short-term rental/transient accommodations endorsement. Hosting platforms are required to submit a signed affidavit on the 5th of each month stating that they have been compliant with the DC laws regarding short-term rentals for the previous month;
Hosting platforms and residents may not book a short-term rental as a vacation rental for more than 15 nights cumulatively in a calendar year;
A short-term rental will be considered a ‘vacation rental’ if the guest has use of the entire unit during their stay;
Rental hosts are required to retain records for a minimum of two years and hosting platforms for three years;
Violations 120 days following the effective date of this law will incur penalties including:
$1,000.00 fine for first violation;
$4,000.00 fine for second violation;
$7,000.00 fine for third and subsequent violations;
Hosting platforms will be fined $1,000.00 per violation.
The bill provides that a Cease And Desist will be issued to the hosting platform following a first violation. Thereafter, injunctive relief is allowed to the Attorney General of DC or an owner or occupant of a neighboring property who would be specially damaged by a violation.

The District can revoke the short-term rental license of violators for a period of 3 months to three years.

Passed along with the new legislation was an amendment allowing applications for hardship exemptions relating to the 90-day annual cap. This concession is intended for those in the military or diplomatic corps who experience longer-term work deployments and those who must leave the District to receive health treatment for a serious health condition or to care for a family member receiving treatment.

The bill passed with enough votes to override a veto and Mayor Muriel Bowser is expected to sign it into law. The measure would take effect on Oct. 1, 2019.

The DCRA will be responsible for monitoring and investigating the short-term rentals until a dedicated office can be established.

As introduced, this bill required the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to monitor and investigate short term rentals for compliance with zoning regulations, building codes, health codes and housing codes among other things. DCRA must maintain records and statistics on licensed short-term rental activity. It creates a new license category for short-term rentals and procedures for enforcement actions. It also establishes penalties for violations.

The Bill

Rev. Fiscal Impact Statement 10/15/18
Short-term rental restrictions in Arlington County VA, Loudon County VA and Montgomery County MD

Nearly every jurisdiction in the DCMA has adopted or is adopting new home-sharing regulations.

First was Arlington County VA, then Alexandria VA and Montgomery County MD followed. DC’s bill was introduced in early 2017.

More history from WAMU


We compile this information to make our buyers aware and to provide an easy review, we didn’t write it. If you have questions about DC short-term and vacation rules & regs, please contact DCRA and DLCP. Also be aware that information on this page may be incomplete or outdated, and that there is no guarantee the latest version of requirements is displayed here.

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