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Short-term rentals, Airbnb, now regulated in Richmond

Posted at 5:18 PM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 17:20:59-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Short-term rentals like Airbnb will now be regulated in the city of Richmond.

On Monday, Richmond City Council passed a series of amendments to the city’s Zoning Ordinance that created a set of regulations on short-term rental (STR) properties, which are usually advertised on apps like Airbnb. The changes go into effect Wednesday, July 1.

The regulations emulate best practices from around the state and allow short-term rental units to operate as an accessory use to homes with "conditions to ensure the health and safety of the renters and minimize any negative effects" on neighborhood residents.

In order to operate a short-term rental, the unit must be the renter's primary residence, meaning they must reside there at least 185 days a year. This protects the housing market from the speculative use of private residences as effective hotels and is present in the regulations of counties such as Henrico and Arlington.

The number of nights a year each short-term rental can operate is currently unlimited.

Before the ordinance passed, short-term rentals were not a permitted use in the City of Richmond’s Zoning Ordinance. However, a March 2018 study revealed that 749 unique short-term rental units were active within city lines.

“This is a great example of how city policies can make Richmond more competitive,” said Mayor Stoney. “I’m all about tourism and economic empowerment, letting Richmonders leverage their assets to strengthen our city’s economy. However, other cities have seen unfettered short-term rentals lead to speculative markets. Bottom line: the health of our city’s housing market must be protected. The Department of Planning and Development Review and Planning Commission have done a great job ensuring we have a responsible regulatory framework in place.”

The Planning Commission offered an amendment to the administration’s original ordinance. The amendment, recommended by the Planning and Development Review staff, requires the Department of Planning and Development Review to provide a report on the implementation of the ordinance in the summer of 2021.

For more information on short term rentals in the City of Richmond, visit