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Short-Term Rentals in Virginia Beach: A Guide to Local Laws and Regulations

Short-Term Rentals in Virginia Beach: A Guide to Local Laws and Regulations

Are you dreaming of owning a slice of paradise in Virginia Beach and capitalizing on the booming tourist market?

Virginia Beach isn't just a vacation hotspot – it's a prime location for Airbnb hosts. Imagine pristine beaches, a bustling boardwalk and endless entertainment options right outside your door – all fueling high demand for short-term rentals.

AirDNA reports over 1,500 active listings boasting an average daily rate of $377.70 and a 57% occupancy rate, making Virginia Beach an ideal location for investors seeking strong returns.

What is Considered a Short-term Rental in Virginia Beach?

The city of Virginia Beach defines a short-term rental property as:

 “An entire dwelling rented for less than thirty (30) consecutive days for compensation.” 

This definition covers various property types, including houses and apartments. Notably, home sharing, where a room within an owner’s residence is rented out for less than 30 days, does not count as a short-term rental under local regulations.

Is Your Property Eligible for Short-Term Rentals?

Not all properties in Virginia Beach qualify as short-term rentals. Here's the breakdown:

Sandbridge special service district

Properties located in the Sandbridge Special Service District can operate as short-term rentals as long as they meet the regulations and obtain an annual zoning permit. 

Oceanfront resort short-term rental overlay district

This area has specific zoning codes for STRs. You'll need a conditional use permit (CUP) before obtaining a regular permit.

Grandfathered properties

If your property was registered for short-term rentals before July 1, 2018 and you kept up with the transient occupancy taxes, it might be grandfathered in. However, it must still meet current regulations.

The Rulebook: Key Regulations for Short-Term Rentals

This image represents key regulations for short-term rentals

All short-term rentals must meet certain regulations per City Zoning Ordinance Section 241.2:


Properties must have one parking space per bedroom. Stacking of vehicles in a driveway counts, as long as each spot is 9ft. wide and 16ft. long. If not a parking plan has to be drafted and approved by the Zoning Administrator. 

Note: Street parking DOES NOT count.

Event regulations

Thinking of hosting a gathering? If you or your guests plan an event with 50-100 people, you'll need a special event permit. Remember, each property is only allowed up to three such permits per year.

Responsible party

Designate a point person who can address any issues that arise during a rental period within 30 minutes. Make sure their contact information is easily accessible to guests.


The Annual Zoning Permit requires properties to have a 4-square-foot sign on the property identifying the building as a short-term rental home. Other signage, such as architectural signs naming the structure, is not allowed.

Tax compliance

All tax records and registrations with the Commissioner of Revenue’s office must be current to maintain the property’s eligibility.

Posted notices and trash management

Hosts are expected to leave out copies of the approved parking plan and a summary of city code (provided by the zoning administrator) for guests. Additionally, trash must be managed and kept in bins until weekly pickup.

Rental contracts and occupancy

Properties are only allowed to accept up to 2 rental contracts within 7 consecutive days. No more than three individuals per bedroom are allowed between 11:00 p.m and 7:00 a.m.

Liability insurance

Properties must have at least $1,000,000 in liability insurance with proof of insurance kept on file with the Zoning Office.

Noise and fire safety

Keep the peace—no outdoor amplified sound is permitted between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. Properties must have interconnected smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors if applicable.

Accessory structure

Structures such as a converted detached garage can’t be used or occupied as short-term rentals.

Annual zoning permit

All properties, regardless of whether a conditional use permit (CUP) is required, must obtain an annual short-term rental zoning permit.

Understanding Tax Regulations for Short-Term Rentals in Virginia Beach

As of October 1, 2022, Virginia law streamlined the process for collecting and remitting transient occupancy taxes. 

Here's the good news: short-term rental platforms like Airbnb will now handle tax collection on your behalf. This simplifies things for local municipalities and acknowledges the valuable contribution short-term rentals make to the Virginia Beach community.

While property owners will still need to register with the Commissioner of Revenue to stay informed of any updates, the overall goal is to make tax collection and remittance a smoother experience for everyone.

What Happens if Short-Term Regulations Aren’t Met?

Although the Zoning Department enforces Virginia Beach's short-term rental regulations, the City Council holds the ultimate authority to revoke permits for non-compliant properties.

If your short-term rental isn't quite in line with the regulations, there's no need to panic! The department typically offers friendly reminders and the chance to make adjustments. A minor oversight might result in a starting fine of up to $200, possibly reaching $500 for repeated problems.

However, property owners have 15 days to address any issues and ensure their short-term rental complies with regulations before a hearing.

The Road to Responsible Hosting in Virginia Beach

Starting a short-term rental business in Virginia Beach can be a great opportunity.

By understanding the regulations, obtaining the necessary permits and operating responsibly, you can ensure a smooth experience for yourself, your guests and the community. Remember, a happy neighborhood is a successful short-term rental business!

Streamline Your Success with the Right Short-Term Rental Software

Managing a successful short-term rental can feel overwhelming but with the right vacation rental software like Hostaway, an all-in-one solution, is a whole lot easier. It streamlines everything from bookings and payments to guest communication.

Plus, it automates time-consuming tasks like managing calendars across platforms to avoid double bookings, optimizes pricing based on market trends and more.

With Hostaway, you'll experience less stress and have more time to focus on what truly matters – creating an exceptional guest experience.

FAQs: Your Short-Term Rental Questions Answered

Q: How do I apply for a short-term rental permit?

A: Property owners need to apply via the Virginia Beach government website, where you can fill out and submit your application for a zoning permit or a conditional use permit, depending on your property's location and status.

Q: Are there specific areas in Virginia Beach where I can operate an STR?

A: Yes, short-term rentals are primarily permitted in the Sandbridge Special Service District and properties with a conditional use permit. It’s best to check with the city’s planning department to confirm if your property is in an eligible area.

Q: Can I rent out just a room in my house as an STR?

A: Renting out just a room does not qualify as an STR in Virginia Beach unless the entire dwelling is rented out.

Q: What happens if I expand grandfathered property?

A: Expanding your grandfathered property by more than 25% or 1,000 square feet will revoke its grandfathered status and you will need to reapply under the current regulations. 

Q: How often do I need to renew my short-term rental permit?

A: All short-term rental permits require annual renewal. Keep an eye on the expiration date to ensure you remain compliant.

Ready to find out how Hostaway can transform your business?

Hostaway is proud to support thousands of Property Managers and Airbnb Hosts Around the world. We take pride in being Top Ranked in Vacation Rental Software Review Sites: Capterra, G2, Software Advice, Trust Pilot, to name just a few! Check out our reviews and read the Hostaway Case Studies from real successful and growing Short-Term Rental Managers!