Department of Planning and Development

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

TTY 711

12055 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, VA 22035

Leslie Johnson,
Zoning Administrator

Short-Term Lodging - Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question below to expand.

Short-Term Lodging (STL) is any occupancy of a dwelling or mobile home for a period of less than 30 days. STLs are typically advertised on online platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO and FlipKey.

On July 31, 2018, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (Board) adopted an ordinance to allow residents to rent out their home, or rent a room within their home, as STLs. STLs will become permitted in Fairfax County once the new ordinance becomes effective on October 1, 2018.

In 2017, the Virginia State General Assembly enacted Virginia Code § 15.2‑983, affirming a locality’s right to regulate the short-term rental of property through its general land use and zoning authority. As a result of this law, the Board directed staff to analyze the short-term rental of property in Fairfax County and recommend possible changes to the County Code and Zoning Ordinance. The new regulations are intended to achieve a balance between allowing STLs while maintaining the overall character of residential neighborhoods.

STLs are permitted as an accessory use in all zoning district that permit residential uses, and in all types of dwellings i.e. single-family homes, townhouses, condos, mobile homes and apartments.

No, STLs are prohibited in detached accessory structures, accessory dwelling units, temporary family health care structures, affordable dwelling units or workforce dwelling units.

Both property owners and tenants of a residential unit qualify to operate STLs in their homes provided the home is their primary residence which is established by living at the residence for a minimum of 185 days out of the calendar year. If you are a tenant, you are required to secure the approval or consent of the property owner prior to operating an STL in your home.

No, you can only operate STL at your permanent residence which is established by living at the residence for a minimum of 185 days out of the calendar year.

Yes, you can operate STL in your home for no more than 60 nights per calendar year.

You can host no more than 6 adults at any one time.

No, there is no limit on the number of children that can be associated with the 6 adults.

You can only have one STL contract at any one time.

No, events and commercial activities such as weddings, luncheons, banquets, parties, wedding, meetings, fund raising, or advertising activities and any other gathering of persons other than authorized lodgers, whether for direct or indirect compensation are prohibited in association with any STL operation.

Yes, property owners and tenants who rent their homes for STL must obtain a STL Permit, issued by the Zoning Administrator. The STL Permit may be revoked by the Zoning Administrator for failure to comply with the new STL regulations.

No, inspections are not required prior to issuance of the permit. However, the home used for STL must be open, upon request, for inspection by County personnel during reasonable hours.

In addition, as the operator of the STL, you are responsible to ensure that any areas used for STL provides the following minimum life safety features:

  • a working multi-purpose fire extinguisher,
  • interconnected smoke detectors,
  • carbon monoxide detectors (when required for a fireplace or gas service), and
  • a plan posted inside the door of each sleeping room showing the exit pathway from the sleeping room used for STL to the nearest exit from the dwelling or mobile home.

Only if the basement and/or any other non-traditional space converted to sleeping room(s) in association with the STL use complies with the most current building code requirements, including but not limited to providing a second means of egress such as an emergency egress window. Please note that issuance of an STL Permit does not authorize creation of a second dwelling unit.

You can submit your STL permit application beginning on October 1, 2018, once the new ordinance becomes effective.

The application form should include the information listed below. Incomplete applications will NOT be processed and the application will be failed.

  • Operator’s contact information
  • Contact information of an Authorized Agent (an adult who consents to be available to address issues or emergencies during the rental stay)
  • A statement identifying the location of one designated parking space available for lodgers, which the Operator has the authority to reserve for STL purposes; and
  • Two forms of verification such as a driver’s license, vehicle registration, or utility bill demonstrating the residential unit is the permanent residence of the Operator.

Yes, there is a $200 filing fee. Your STL permit will automatically expire two years from the date of issuance.

Processing of the STL application will take approximately 5 to 10 business days from the day of submission. You will receive an email notification of permit approval with a copy of the permit enclosed as an attachment.

Issuance of STL permits are necessary to help the County enforce the newly adopted regulations with respect to STL operations, occupancy limits and life safety issues. It will also assure lodgers that the STL property has been issued a permit in accordance with the County regulations.

The regulations require that the STL Permit Number be included in any advertisements listing the respective property for rent which will provide an invaluable tool for Code Enforcement investigating illegal uses of properties offering STLs or operating multiple STLs.

Yes, many jurisdictions in Virginia and nationwide require some type of zoning permit or use a registry to ensure that STLs meets basic health, safety, and welfare standards. Please note that the newly adopted ordinance does not apply to the incorporated towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna.

Your application will be failed if you do not have the Authorized Agent information at the time of application submittal. Should any information required on the STL Application Form change during the two-year rental period, you as the Operator are responsible to inform the Zoning Administrator’s Office immediately. There are no charges to update your information.

No. STL Permits are only required for rentals of less than 30 consecutive days per calendar year. Please note that Sect. 2-502 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance limits long-term occupancy (30-days or more) of a dwelling to one of the following:

  1. One (1) family, which may consist of one (1) person or two (2) or more persons related by blood or marriage with any number of natural children, foster children, step children or adopted children and with not to exceed two (2) roomers or boarders as permitted by Article 10.
  2. Two (2) single parents or guardians with not more than a total of six (6) of their dependent children, including natural children, foster children, step children or adopted children, functioning as a single housekeeping unit.
  3. A group of not more than four (4) persons not necessarily related by blood or marriage functioning as a single housekeeping unit.

Yes. Both owner occupied and whole house rentals of less than 30-days are considered STL and require issuance of an STL Permit.

Yes, failure to publish the STL Permit Number in advertisements is a violation of the law.

Yes, you must collect Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) for each rental contract and file a monthly return to remit the TOT to the Department of Tax Administration (DTA) on or before the last day of the month following the reporting month. A monthly return must be filed even if no taxes are due.  Hosting platforms DO NOT file and remit TOT taxes to Fairfax County.  Additionally, if gross receipts exceed $10,000 per calendar year, a Business Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) is required. For additional information, please visit the DTA’s website.

Virginia Code § 15.2 110 prohibits the County from requiring consent from an HOA/COA prior to the issuance of any permit, certificate or license. However, it is your responsibility as the STL operator to ensure that your STL operation complies with any restrictive covenants on your property.

To submit your STL application, please visit the dedicated STL website at the URL below and download and fill out the application form before mailing or hand delivering it to the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development, Zoning Administration Division at:

12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 807
Fairfax, Virginia 22035-5505
(Follow signs to parking garage behind the building)
Phone number: (703) 324-1314
Office hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday

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