The DC Council passed legislation in late 2018 restricting short term rentals of residential property.


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 not 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

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The Isaacs Team LLC


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