• Scott Westfall

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

Updated: Jul 23

“Conditional use permit” (CUP) is a common term if you work in commercial or residential real estate construction. However, as of November 1, 2019, Virginia Beach vacation rental owners will 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.

A recently-enacted short-term rental ordinance in Virginia Beach now requires many vacation rental owners to obtain one of these “special-use” permits from the city to continue operating as a short-term rental. To avoid fines or losing their ability to rent on a short-term basis, owners will have to prove they meet a set of conditions - or convince city zoning officials to grant them an exception through the permitting process.

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 Government’s 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 that went into effect in November 2019. 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 CUP is a zoning exception which 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?

The city of Virginia Beach is requiring CUPs for any residential property which began operating as a rental on a short-term basis (vacation rentals, Airbnbs, VRBOs, etc.) after July 1, 2018.

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 home as an Airbnb during the “Something in the Water” concert this spring? 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 condo you’ve been renting as a vacation rental for two 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.

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 if the new city regulations require a CUP for your rental property. If your property is currently being rented on a short-term basis, you may continue to do so after the application has been submitted while awaiting a final decision from City Council. 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.

Note: The New Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Ordinance also put into place a series of regulations that must be adhered to by vacation and short-term rental owners. Subscribe Here to stay up-to-date on the CUP and STR Ordinance processes.


CGP Real Estate Consulting is here for you! While our goal is to clarify the new Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Ordinance, we always recommend that you reach out to a professional to ensure that regulations are being adhered to and that the CUP application process runs smoothly to avoid unnecessary hiccups or fines. Call or email us at 757-375-4550 or

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