Zoning Permits Section

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our offices are open 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
703-222-1082 TTY 711
12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 250
Fairfax, VA 22035
Leslie Johnson
Zoning Administrator

Short-Term Lodging - Frequently Asked Questions

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Short-Term Lodging (STL) is any occupancy of a dwelling or manufactured 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 changes to the Zoning Ordinance to allow residents to rent out their home, or rent a room within their home, as STLs. STLs became permitted in Fairfax County when the new Ordinance became 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 standards 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 districts that permit residential uses, and in all types of dwellings i.e. single-family homes, townhouses, condos, manufactured homes and apartments.

No, STLs are prohibited in detached accessory structures, accessory living 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 an 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 an STL in your home for no more than 60 nights per calendar year.

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

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

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

No, events and commercial activities such as weddings, luncheons, banquets, parties, 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 STL standards.

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 provide 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 manufactured home.

Only if the basement 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 an accessory living unit.

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

The standards 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 administrative permit or use a registry to ensure that STLs meet basic health, safety, and welfare standards. Please note that the 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 fees to update your information.

No. STL Permits are only required for rentals of less than 30 consecutive days per calendar year. Please note that subsection 4102.7.O of the Zoning Ordinance limits long-term occupancy (30-days or more) of a dwelling to one of the following:

  1. Two or more persons related by blood or marriage with any number of natural children, foster children, stepchildren, adopted children, or children in kinship care, with no more than two roomers or boarders as permitted by Article 4.
  2. One or two persons with their dependent children, including natural children, foster children, stepchildren, adopted children, or children in kinship care, functioning as a single household.
  3. A group of not more than four persons not related by blood or marriage functioning as a single household.
  4. A group residential facility.
  5. A group household.
  6. A dwelling unit that includes an accessory living unit occupied in accordance with subsection 4102.7.B.

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.

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