Accessory Homestays allow residents to host overnight guests for stays of less than thirty (30) days in residential dwelling units that they reside in as their primary residence. Accessory Homestays are a means for residents to utilize online booking platforms such as Airbnb, Craigslist or Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO).
An accessory homestay is a special type of home occupation that allows the occupant of a residential dwelling unit to host short-term overnight guests. In addition to meeting the applicable requirements of a traditional home occupation (detailed in the Arlington County Ordinance §12.9.11), there are specific regulations which apply exclusively to an accessory homestay.
These regulations include:
- Issuance of an Accessory Homestay Permit from the Zoning Administrator.
(Note: This permit must be renewed on an annual basis. Permit renewal is the responsibility of the owner of the dwelling.)
- The applicant for the Accessory Homestay Permit must occupy as their primary residence the dwelling unit for which the permit is being sought. The dwelling unit must be occupied for at least 185 days per year.
(Note: Proof of residency must be submitted with the permit application. Acceptable documents demonstrating residency include copies of a drivers’ license, voter registration card, or an executed lease [for renters].)
- All rented bedrooms must be in the main building of the dwellings. Accessory Homestay Permits will be issued for a detached accessory buildings which have been approved as an Accessory Dwelling.
- An Accessory Homestay Permit may be sought for dwellings which include an accessory dwelling unit. However, both the main dwelling unit and the accessory dwelling unit must be rented under a single contract, and no more than 3 lodgers may stay in the accessory dwelling unit.
- The maximum permitted occupancy is 6 lodgers or 2 lodgers per bedroom, whichever number is greater. Under no circumstances shall occupancy exceed what is permitted under the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (VUSBC). (i.e.; every living room shall contain at least 120 square feet (11.2 m2) and every bedroom shall contain at least 70 square feet (6.5 m2) and every bedroom occupied by more than one person shall contain at least 50 square feet (4.6 m2) of floor area for each occupant thereof)
- For multi-family buildings, read the Chief Building official’s interpretation.
(Note: Accessory Homestay Permits do not exempt any dwelling from the rules or restrictions imposed and enforced by condominium or homeowners’ associations to which the property may be subject. Likewise, renters may be subject to additional rules or restrictions under the terms of their lease which are not preempted by an Accessory Homestay Permit.)
- Any dwelling being used for an accessory homestay must contain working fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors (if required as part of the original building).
- Commercial meetings (including banquets, luncheons, parties, weddings, etc.) are not permitted under an Accessory Homestay Permit.
An Accessory Homestay Permit issued by the Zoning Administrator is required to operate an accessory homestay in Arlington County. The resident of any dwelling unit that includes an accessory homestay must comply with the full regulations detailed in the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance §12.9.11 and §12.9.12.
An Accessory Homestay Permit may be revoked if Arlington County staff finds that (1) the conditions of the Accessory Homestay Permit are not being met, (2) 3 or more violations are reported to Arlington County staff within a one (1) year period, and/or (3) if the occupant of the dwelling unit refuses to cooperate with Arlington County staff to investigate a complaint. If revoked, the resident of a dwelling unit cannot re-apply for a new Accessory Homestay Permit until one (1) year from the date revoked.
Follow the Accessory Homestay Permit application instructions to submit online or in-person:
- APPLY ONLINE: Accessory Homestay Permit Application
(If you experience technical difficulties completing the application, email us
- APPLY IN-PERSON: Accessory Homestay Permit Application
(submit to the Zoning Office at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 1000)
Register Your Business
All accessory homestay providers will need to register the Accessory Homestay business with the Commissioner of Revenue.
- REGISTER ONLINE (click “Register a Business”)
- REGISTER IN-PERSON by completing the business license form and submit to the Commissioner’s office at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 200
(For Accessory Homestays, the “section code” part of the business license form is “72.A – Lodging”)
Accessory Homestay providers are required to obtain Business License and a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) accounts (County Code Chapter 40) from the Commissioner of Revenue. For more information about taxes and/or a business license, contact the Business Tax Division of the Office of the Commissioner of Revenue.
Accessory Homestay Permits expire one (1) year from the date of issuance. To continue to operate an accessory homestay after this expiration date, homestay operators must file an Accessory Homestay Permit application, either online or in-person (see Submit Application above). Accessory homestay providers will need their current Accessory Homestay Permit number in order to file as a renewal. Once a renewal Accessory Homestay Permit has been issued, homestay operators will need to notify the Commissioner of Revenue of their new permit number to update their Business License and Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) accounts.
If an accessory homestay provider no longer wish to operate an accessory homestay, there is no need to notify the Zoning Division of the discontinuance; all Accessory Homestay Permits expire automatically on the listed expiration date. However, the Commissioner of Revenue needs to be contacted in order to close their associated Business License and Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) accounts.
For an Accessory Homestay Permit, the filing fee is $63. The filing fee is paid at permit issuance, after review and approval is complete.