• Scott Westfall

New Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Ordinance: Everything you need to know

Updated: Sep 30

Update 9/7/2021: City Council has finalized the new laws for short-term rentals in Virginia Beach. Get the full list of rules and regulations here.

On November 1, 2019, the new Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental (STR) Ordinance went into effect, and the updated regulations are impact anyone who owns or purchases a vacation rental home, Airbnb, or VRBO in the City of Virginia Beach.

The new Short-Term Rental Ordinance has been posted on the Zoning and Planning Office’s website since passing through the Virginia Beach City Council in January 2019. However, the public seems surprisingly unaware of the new regulations and how they will affect vacation rental operations.

If you own a vacation rental or are thinking of purchasing an investment property in Virginia Beach, here’s what you need to know about the new short-term rental regulations.

Virginia Beach King Neptune Statue - Photo Credit: Landon Epperly
Neptune Statue along Virginia Beach Boardwalk. Photograph taken by: Landon Epperly - Local Photographer

Important Definitions

Short-term rental (STR) is defined in Virginia Beach as "a dwelling that does not meet the definition of home-sharing in which a room/rooms, or the entire dwelling, are rented for less than 30 consecutive days for compensation.”

Example: A vacation rental home or Airbnb in which the owners do not personally reside.

Home-sharing is defined as “a dwelling in which a room/rooms are offered for rental for compensation for a period of less than 30 consecutive days by an owner who utilizes the dwelling as their principal residence and occupies the dwelling during any such rental period.”

Example: An Airbnb or VRBO that’s simply a private room within the owner’s residence.

Conditional-use permit (CUP), sometimes known as a special-use permit, is defined as a “zoning exception given by a city or county that allows a property owner to use their land in a way that is otherwise unauthorized.”

Example: Approval from the city for an owner to use their residentially zoned property as a home-based business.

The Implications of the New Short-Term Rental Ordinance

If you are looking to start renting a property on a short-term or seasonal basis, or if you registered your vacation rental property after July 1, 2018, you’ll now have to adhere to regulations like these:

1. Must obtain a conditional use permit (CUP)

2. One parking spot per bedroom

  • Street parking does not count, stacking of vehicles will be allowed

3. Maximum occupancy of 3 people per bedroom

  • Those 5 bedroom STR houses that sleep 21 people could become a thing of the past.

4. Maximum of 2 rental contracts in a 7-night period

  • Effectively making anything under 3 nights not worth it to a property owner

- Read CGP's guide to applying for a short-term rental CUP in Virginia Beach.

- A complete, easy-to-read summary of the ordinance’s implications.

- View the full ordinance here.

The Good

If your vacation rental property was registered and you were paying the required taxes prior to July 1, 2018, it will be grandfathered in - no CUP required. If you have “grandfathered” status, you will likely not be accountable for the new regulations. However, we encourage you to check with the Zoning and Planning Office, just in case. Be aware that you can lose your grandfathered status if you stop renting the property as a STR or if you expand the square footage by more than 25%.

In addition, short-term vacation rental owners in the Sandbridge Special Service District won’t be affected by the new ordinance as previous legislation (HB 824) made them exempt from these regulations.

Unlike similar vacation rental destinations across the country enacting tough laws, the Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Ordinance is a happy medium between semi-professional couch-surfing and stringent regulation. The ordinance aims to protect the local neighborhood environment from many of the negative aspects STR homes may bring (i.e. traffic congestion, cramped parking, trash, & noise), ensure city taxes are accounted for, and provide owners and investors a clear path to operate vacation rental homes or properties.

The Grey

The enforcement process of the new law is as yet unclear. Virginia Beach Councilwoman Jessica Abbott voted against the ordinance, stating, “We don’t have the resources to enforce what we passed.” The councilwoman called for more planning administrators, and the Zoning Office assured CGP Real Estate Consulting that the city has hired two more personnel and is creating a specific task force to implement and enforce the new regulations.

The enforcement process and repercussions of new Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Ordinance are still to be determined. Until November, STR owners may continue running their businesses, but they should consider the impending requirements sooner rather than later.

The City informed CGP that they are now accepting Conditional Use Permits from non-grandfathered properties, but no specific timeline was provided regarding when they would be processed. Kevin L. Hershberger, the Zoning Inspector Supervisor of the Zoning Administration Office, expected roughly 500 CUP applications to be submitted.

Subscribe here to stay informed on the status of this ordinance progress.


City Council passed new rules and regulations for short-term rental properties in Virginia Beach on September 7, 2021. For a complete review of the short-term rental laws in Virginia Beach, check out our post here.

Virginia Beach has and always will be a vacation and tourism destination. Companies like Anchor Realty Group have been managing and renting homes in this region to vacationers for over half a century. The rise of companies such as Airbnb and VRBO forced the city to regulate the industry in some manner, and this ordinance is a strong attempt to do so.

The effects of the Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Ordinance will greatly impact anyone who owns or purchases a vacation rental home or property by November 1, 2019. Consider today whether you will need to apply and pay for a CUP, and determine how these regulations will affect your property.

If you have any questions about how these changes will affect you or you need assistance in bringing your Virginia Beach property into compliance, don’t hesitate to comment on this post or reach out to CGP Real Estate Consulting at

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CGP Real Estate Consulting & their partners at Anchor Realty Group, a premier vacation rental & property management company, are Virginia Beach's local vacation rental experts. Our consultants spoke directly to Virginia Beach Zoning and Planning Office and the City Commissioner of Revenue to provide you with unbiased and transparent information regarding short-term rental properties.