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Short-Term Rentals in Washington D.C.

Short-Term Rentals in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.’s charm transcends the seasons. From the cherry blossoms of spring to the festive lights of winter, the city offers something special year-round.

And for homeowners, this consistent appeal translates to a steady stream of potential guests on platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo.

With a record-breaking 21.9 million visitors in 2022, the city continues to draw in a diverse crowd, including 20.7 million domestic and 1.2 million international travelers. From the iconic landmarks to the cultural richness, Washington, D.C. is a magnet for exploration.

This guide aims to help property managers and hosts navigate the ins and outs of short-term rentals in Washington D.C., providing valuable insights to maximize success in this competitive market.

Is the use of Airbnb permitted in Washington, D.C.?

Short term rentals are well established in D.C. with over 5,100 short-term vacation rentals. However, the process has become more regulated with the enforcement of new laws, notably the Short-Term Rental Regulation Act of 2018, effective on December 3, 2021.

This act mandates that all short-term and vacation rental properties booked on platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo must be licensed by the Department of Regulatory Affairs (DCRA).

What are the regulations governing short-term rental accommodations in Washington, D.C.?

Regulations governing short-term rental accommodations in Washington, D.C.

Hosts in Washington, D.C. are subject to a set of regulations aimed at ensuring safety and compliance. These regulations include:

  • Unobstructed egress from the rental property.
  • Working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • A portable fire extinguisher.
  • Provision of a 24-hour accessible phone number for emergencies.
  • Conspicuous display of the Short-Term Rental or Vacation Rental License inside the property.
  • Payment of applicable transient lodging taxes collected by booking services on behalf of hosts.
  • Maintenance of booking records for a period of two years.
  • Ineligibility for investment properties and those owned by corporate entities.

Liability insurance requirements

In addition to the regulations enacted in 2021, Washington, D.C., now mandates liability insurance for short-term rental hosts. Hosts are required to provide proof of liability insurance with a minimum coverage of $250,000. This insurance can be obtained through a rental platform or directly from an insurance company.

It's important to note that the city does not specify the type of liability insurance needed. Short-term rental hosts typically have three main options: personal liability, premise liability, and commercial general liability. Despite that, personal and premise liability policies may exclude coverage for business activities, potentially leaving hosts exposed.

While booking platforms like Airbnb may offer liability guarantees, they do not provide hosts with tangible proof of insurance in the form of a Certificate of Insurance (COI). In the insurance industry, a COI serves as standardized proof and includes essential information such as the named insured, additional insureds, location address, effective date, coverage limit, and liability type.

License and registration

  • The property must be the homeowner's primary residence.
  • Obtain a Certificate of Clean Hands from the Office of Tax and Revenue.
  • Attest to the habitability of the property.
  • If applicable (e.g., co-op, condo, or homeowners' association), ensure compliance with bylaws or obtain written permission.

Cleaning and maintenance considerations

  • Consider having a cleaning service ready for emergencies or quick turnovers between guests.
  • If allowing pets, think about adding a post-stay pet cleaning fee.
  • Accidental damage insurance (e.g., $3,000 coverage) can be an alternative to traditional damage deposits.

Is investing in Washington considered a profitable opportunity?

If the thought of spending thousands on property ownership concerns you, consider rental arbitrage in Washington for passive income.

Airbnb metrics play a vital role in the success of hosts. Understanding area occupancy rates, average daily rates, and annual revenue is crucial for achieving success. Use a reliable short-term rental calculator like AirDNA to confirm Washington's investment potential.

Based on AirDNA:

Market Score: 76 Annual Revenue: $9.9K Occupancy Rate: 27% Average Daily Rate: $99.7 RevPAR: $56.5

Additionally, in this digital era, market data provides easy access to estimated annual revenue and lucrative investment opportunities in Washington. Is the Washington market considered profitable? The data holds the answer.

Lucrative Neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.

Lucrative Neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill, D.C.'s heart, resonates with history and charm, boasting iconic landmarks like the U.S. Capitol and the Library of Congress.

The neighborhood seamlessly blends historic architecture with modern amenities, offering a front-row seat to the nation's political and cultural epicenter. Tree-lined streets, historic row houses, and the lively Eastern Market enhance its appeal.


Georgetown, nestled along the scenic Potomac River, effortlessly blends old-world charm and upscale sophistication. With cobblestone streets, historic residences, and a waterfront ambiance, it's a coveted destination.

Hosting in this area provides guests a taste of luxury with access to high-end shops, fine dining, and scenic views, enhanced by the intellectual and cultural richness of Georgetown University.

Adams Morgan

Adams Morgan, known for its vibrant atmosphere and diverse offerings, invites exploration with eclectic nightlife and diverse dining.

The neighborhood's historic charm, dynamic community, and trendy bars embody D.C.'s lively spirit, offering guests an immersive experience in a bustling hub of entertainment and culinary delights.

Columbia Heights

Columbia Heights seamlessly blends historic charm with modern influences, reflecting cultural richness in its architecture, shops, and dining options.

The historic Tivoli Theatre, vibrant community events, and diverse boutiques and eateries contribute to the unique character of this neighborhood, making it an excellent choice for hosts aiming to offer guests a well-rounded cultural experience.


Bloomingdale, a trendy area, mixes historic charm with modern trends. Unique Victorian-style row houses line the streets, adding character.

Known for hip cafes and art galleries, it offers a taste of the evolving city vibe. A great choice for those seeking a distinctive D.C. stay amidst ongoing neighborhood growth.


As Washington, D.C., continues to evolve as a prime tourist destination, hosts must stay informed about local regulations and changes in short-term rental legislation.

The recent focus on licensing, regulations, and liability insurance aims to elevate the quality of hospitality and foster a positive experience for both hosts and guests.

Whether you are a property manager or a host, navigating the intricate landscape of short-term rentals in Washington, D.C., requires careful consideration and adherence to the latest guidelines.

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