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Conditional Use Permit: What You Need to Know as a Vacation Rental Owner in Virginia Beach

Updated: Feb 24

Updated 10/29/21


“Conditional use permit” (CUP) is a common term if you work in commercial or residential real estate construction. But short-term rental owners in Virginia Beach may also need to be armed with answers to the questions: “What is a conditional use permit, does this apply to my property, and how do I get one?”

Example of "public notice" sign placed on properties that are requesting a Conditional Use Permit in Virginia Beach.
Example of "public notice" sign placed on properties that are requesting a Conditional Use Permit in Virginia Beach.

The short-term rental regulations in Virginia Beach require vacation rental properties located in the Oceanfront Resort District to obtain one of these “special-use” permits from the city to continue operating as a short-term rental home. If your vacation rental is located in this area, you'll need to get one to avoid fines and maintain your ability to rent.


The purpose of the CUP is not just to give vacation rental owners a new hoop to jump through. As stated on the Virginia Beach City's government website: “City Council had to balance the wants and needs of those renting out their homes and the neighbors. The goal is to allow the practice to continue, but with regulations in place to preserve the quality of our neighborhoods for everyone.”


CGP is the expert in short-term rentals in Virginia Beach and is ready to provide you with what you need to know about conditional use permits to comply with the new regulations. We have compiled the following go-to guide to help you easily determine whether or not you need a conditional use permit for your property and, if so, how to apply.


What is a Conditional Use Permit?

A conditional use permit is a zoning exception that allows the property owners to use their land in a way not otherwise permitted within the particular zoning district.


Do I Need a Conditional Use Permit?

As of the summer of 2021, only Virginia Beach properties located in the Oceanfront Resort Overlay District are required to get a conditional use permit.


If you aren’t sure if a CUP applies to your property, here are some examples:

  • Did you start renting out a private room in your beachside home as an Airbnb during the “Something in the Water” concert in 2019? You need a CUP to legally continue.

  • Are you working on furnishing a new short-term rental property near the oceanfront you invested in to make some extra income? You’ll need a CUP before you start renting.

  • Do you have a property in the Oceanfront Resort District you’ve been renting as a vacation rental for several years, which you registered before July 2018 and on which you have been paying all your taxes on? You will be grandfathered in and DO NOT need a CUP to continue operations (but will need to get a zoning permit each year).

  • Do you have a current, unexpired conditional use permit for your short-term rental property in Virginia Beach? Your CUP expires after 5 years, but it may be renewed by City Council if you meet all requirements.

  • Do you operate a vacation rental outside the Oceanfront Resort District? You do not need a CUP, but make sure your property meets all the finalized requirements for legal operation.

What You Need to Apply for a CUP

The following documents are required in order to submit your application:

  • Completed Application signed by the owner of the property

  • Signed disclosure statement

  • $360 (check or money order) payable to “Treasurer, City of Virginia Beach” to cover the application fee and all print and mailing services required

  • Property survey or site plan

  • A drawn and written description of the parking plan

  • Proof of appropriate liability insurance ($1,000,000)

  • A sworn property statement from the owner (if the property owner is not attending the hearing)

Conditional Use Permit Application Process

Important Notes: Since the application process for CUPs (detailed below) can take up to four months to complete, CGP Real Estate Consulting recommends beginning this process as soon as possible. Approved permits are valid for five years before the permit must be renewed.


Step 1: Complete and Submit Application (3-4 months before hearing)

Step 2: Application Review (takes up to 60 days)

  • Submitted applications are reviewed by a staff planner and necessary city departments (Public Works, Public Utilities etc.).

  • Staff formulates a recommendation for the Planning Commission's consideration.

  • Notification signs must be posted by the city 30 days prior to the hearing. The City will advertise the hearing twice in the Virginia-Pilot Beacon.

Step 3: Planning Commission Public Hearing (every 2nd Wednesday of each month)

  • Planning Commission reviews staff's recommendation at a public hearing.

  • Members of the public have the opportunity to speak at this hearing.

  • Planning Commission votes to recommend approval or denial to the City Council.

Step 4: City Council Hearing (2-4 weeks following Planning Commission)

  • At this hearing, City Council reviews both the staff's and Planning Commission's recommendations.

  • Members of the public have the opportunity to speak at this hearing.

  • City Council approves, denies, or defers the application.

Step 5: Approval Process

  • Applicant will receive an approval letter from the Zoning Office.

  • Applicant will receive a Zoning Compliance Permit issued by the Zoning Office (if applicable; no charge).

  • If approved, the conditional use permit will be good for five years, even if the property is sold.


THE BOTTOM LINE

New short-term rental properties in the Oceanfront Resort District are required to obtain a conditional use permit to operate. To make sure your property meets all the regulations, we recommend you work with a professional to make sure your business runs smoothly.


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