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  • Scott Westfall

[November 2019] Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Ordinance: Everything you need to know

Updated: Feb 11, 2022

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, make sure you read up on the finalized 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 for Short-Term Rentals

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

Updated as of 2021, only certain properties are eligible to operate as vacation rentals in Virginia Beach.

The 2019 ordinance was the start of determining new regulations like these:

2. One parking spot per bedroom

3. Maximum occupancy limits have been updated

4. Maximum number of rental contracts in a 7-night period have been updated

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. However, we encourage you to check with the Zoning and Planning Office to make sure your zoning permit and registration are up to date. Be aware that you can lose your grandfathered status if you stop renting the property as a rental 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 short-term rental 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.

It is notable that new short-term rentals in the Oceanfront Resort District will need Conditional Use Permits, and all rental homes in Virginia Beach must apply for an annual zoning permit.

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.

The effects of the Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Ordinance continued to be under debate through September 2021. It's a hot topic in Virginia Beach, and it's imperative for real estate investors in the area to stay informed.

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.




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