After years of debate, the DC Council passed legislation in late 2018 restricting short term rentals of residential property. New regulations kick in January 20, 2022.

Washington, DC has one of the strongest real estate markets in the nation, and a robust rental market. The District expects more than 5,100 short-term and vacation rentals to be offered in 2022, and all must comply with the Short-Term Rental Regulation Act of 2018 (14 DCMR Section 9901.6).  The law is now in effect governing the licensing of DC short-term and vacation rentals.


Make sure you're in compliance, or face stiff penalties.

DCRA will begin accepting license applications for Short-Term Rentals effective January 10, 2022

After a grace period, Short-Term Rental hosts must be licensed by June 10, 2022.

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) began accepting applications for residents to license short-term rentals —for 30 or fewer continuous nights—on January 10, 2022. To give short-term rental hosts enough time to get their required licenses, there will be a 90-day enforcement grace period, ending June 10, 2022.

The new requirements adhere to the Short-Term Rental Regulation Act of 2018, and corresponding regulations that were finalized in early December 2021.

About Short-Term Rental Licenses

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

  1. Short-Term Rental License: This license allows a host to offer fee-based lodging at their primary residence while the host is present on the property (partial property rental; for example, renting a bedroom within a home). As long as the host is present, there is no limit on the number of stays allowed during a calendar year, but each short-term rental stay is limited to 30 or fewer continuous nights.
  2. Short-Term Rental: Vacation Rental License: A “Vacation Rental” allows a host to offer fee-based lodging at their primary residence without being present on the property (full property rental). Cumulatively, vacation rentals cannot exceed 90 nights in any calendar year, and each rental is limited to 30 or fewer continuous nights.

All short-term 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 LLC or corporation are not eligible.

Cost to License

The total cost for a two-year short-term rental license is $104.50, which includes a $70 processing fee, a $25 endorsement fee, and a 10% technology fee.

Penalties For Failure To License

Once the enforcement grace period ends on June 10, 2022, 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.

To confirm the existence of a license, please use Scout, DCRA’s online consolidated database, to confirm the existence of a Short-Term Rental License.If you encounter any issues with a Short-Term Rental, or suspect the operation of an unlicensed rental, you may contact the District of Columbia Short-Term Rental Hotline at (202) 221-8550 to file a complaint.

For further information and a list of Frequently Asked Questions visit dcra.dc.gov/shorttermrentals.

Locations And Parking

Short-Term rentals are allowed to operate in any neighborhood or zone in 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.

Qualifying For A Short Term Rental License In DC


  • Proof of liability insurance with a minimum of $250,000 in coverage must be provided – this may be obtained through a rental platform or from an insurance company.
  • A Certificate of Clean Hands issued within the last 30 days in the property owners name must be obtained from the Office of Tax and Revenue.
  • If the rental is a co-op, condo, or if the property is in a community where there is a homeowners’ association, the owner must attest that the bylaws, house rules, or other governing documents of the homeowner/condo/ cooperative governing board or association allow short-term and/or vacation rentals, do not prohibit owners from operating short-term rentals and/or vacation rentals, or that they have received written permission from the Association to operate a short-term and/or vacation rental at the address.

Here are the primary points of the bill:

  1. The new 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;
  2. 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;
  3. Rental housing conversions are prohibited;
  4. Short term rentals will be subject to the 14.95% DC hotel tax;
  5. A 'dwelling unit' does include an 'accessory dwelling' located in the basement of a single family dwelling;
  6. 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;
  7. 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;
  8. A short-term rental will be considered a 'vacation rental' if the guest has use of the entire unit during their stay;
  9. Rental hosts are required to retain records for a minimum of two years and hosting platforms for three years;
  10. 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.

B22-0092 - Short-term Rental Regulation and Affordable Housing Protection Act of 2017

As introduced, this bill requires 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.

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