• Scott Westfall

Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Permit Process

Updated: Oct 7

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.

Ready to get your short-term rental permit or conditional use permit in Virginia Beach? Wondering how COVID-19 is affecting the process? Read on to learn how the short-term rental market in Virginia Beach has handled the recent changes and what the future might hold.

After the Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Ordinance went into effect in November 2019, the Virginia Beach City Council has been observing the short-term rental permit process and how it’s working for the Planning Commission and rental home owners. As they explore the process and go through conditional use permit applications, updates and adaptations may be made along the way to make it more effective.

The ordinance - passed in January 2019 and put into effect at the end of the year - was created to protect neighborhood living in Virginia Beach, ensure that city taxes are accounted for, and provide short-term rental owners a clear path toward operating vacation rental homes or properties. The law included a list of regulations with which all rental properties must comply in order to operate in Virginia Beach, and many properties must obtain a conditional use permit to begin renting.

We provided an easy breakdown of what Virginia Beach short-term rental owners should do about the new law to continue or start operating their rental property.

Past: What’s Happened with Short-Term Rentals

Since the short-term rental ordinance went into effect, the magnitude of the thriving vacation rental business in Virginia Beach has come to light. Over 1500 properties have been grandfathered in, and though these don’t need to acquire a conditional use permit, the city has said they will need to complete a registration and renewal form and meet all the new regulations.

Since January 2020, 74 short-term rental properties have been approved for conditional use permits, and many more applications are ready for review over the next few months despite closures for social distancing.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak across the country, Virginia Beach City offices are currently closed to the public. However, Virginia Code allows for adaptions and innovations to continue city operations - including public hearings - in events like this. Though the April 2020 meeting was canceled by the Planning Commission, they are preparing for virtual meetings to start on May 27th, 2020 which will include commission members, staff, and Virginia Beach citizens.

Present: What to Do Right Now for Your Short-Term Rental Permit

If you plan to rent your property on a short-term basis or a monthly basis this summer, don’t wait until social distancing is over to continue the process. Take action now, and reach out to a real estate consultant to make sure that your property is in complete compliance.

If you need to start the short-term rental permit application process, do so online so that you don’t have to wait until in-person office visits reopen. Applicants and citizens may attend the virtual Planning Commission meetings by registering online, and if they wish to speak, they must notify the Staff by the morning of the meeting. Meetings will also be broadcast on Facebook Live, cable television, and the city’s website.

Already, there are 15 conditional use permit applicants ready for review for short-term rentals on the May public hearing agenda, and 25 slated for June review.

Though the pandemic has disrupted much of Virginia Beach’s tourist economy, the short-term rental business is finding its value among those who are still traveling or are looking for a safe and relaxing place to quarantine. Many consider rental homes as a safer alternative than hotels for quarantining, and others are taking the opportunity to reside near the beach while they are working remotely.

Listen to Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever’s podcast featuring CGP owner Scott Westfall on how investors are handling COVID-19!

Future: Invest Confidently and Successfully in Short-Term Rentals Post-Pandemic

Virginia Beach is an incredible location for short-term rental investments, with its array of desirable locations, thriving industries, and tourist attractions. However, make sure to consider the following before you make the leap into the STR game.

Read the Full Application

One barrier new short-term rental owners and operators are encountering is not being able to get their applications approved because their neighbors won’t sign off on the application. If your property is zoned as a “duplex” or “condo,” make sure to read the full conditional use permit application thoroughly - not just the rules and requirements listed on the Virginia Beach city website.

Consider the New Regulations

Before purchasing a new property with the intent to use it as a short-term rental, consider how it will comply with the requirements to obtain a conditional use permit.

Make careful observation in particular of how you can provide the required number of off-street parking spots at the property. Each spot must be 9 feet by 18 feet, which has created a challenge for some short-term rental owners even before they get a hearing. Talk to a local real estate professional to determine the best way to set up adequate parking for your property.

Plan Ahead to Maximize Cash Flow

Investing in real estate is a business, and having a solid business plan going in is always a vital key to success. Here are a few tips:

  • Consider what future customers for your short-term rental will be looking for in a vacation property post-pandemic and market your property around those concepts.

  • When analyzing potential properties and projecting future cash flows, increase your anticipated vacancy rates to prepare for any unexpected lost income. Use our free rental property cash flow calculator to get an accurate feel for what you can expect to make.

  • Consider how you can take advantage of the off-season by marketing your property as a winter rental, especially in lucrative locations like Virginia Beach.


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.

If you’re getting started with the short-term rental permit process in Virginia Beach, reach out to CGP today to prepare for a thriving rental business post-pandemic.

If you own a short-term rental in neighboring Norfolk, Virginia, check out our blog post on completing the permit process there.