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The Hidden Truth About DC's Short-Term Rentals: What You Need to Know!

Jessica Evans

For Jessica Evans, real estate is more than a job — it’s a way of life...

For Jessica Evans, real estate is more than a job — it’s a way of life...

Mar 23 4 minutes read

The allure of short-term vacation rentals as a source of income is undeniable. With the potential to offset housing costs or serve as a lucrative real estate investment, the trend has garnered significant interest. However, the regulatory landscape in the Washington DC area adds layers of complexity to what might initially seem like a straightforward endeavor. 

Understanding Short-Term Rentals

A short-term rental, as defined by most jurisdictions, pertains to any lodging arrangement that lasts fewer than 30 days. Crossing over to the 31st day transitions the rental into a standard, long-term agreement. The appeal of such rentals is clear, offering flexibility for both homeowners and visitors. Yet, the regulatory framework governing these rentals varies significantly across the DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area, affecting everything from registration requirements to the allowable number of occupants.

Regulations by Jurisdiction

Washington DC

DC's approach to short-term rentals is bifurcated, with both categories necessitating the property to be owner-occupied:

- Short-term rental: When the owner is present during the rental, such as renting out a portion of their home, there's no cap on the number of nights per year.

- Vacation rental: For situations where the owner is not present, and guests have the entire home, the limit is set at 90 nights per year.

Fairfax County

Here, the property must be owner-occupied with a maximum rental period of 60 nights per year. Fairfax County prohibits individual room rentals, requiring all lodgers to be under a single contract.


Arlington mandates the dwelling to be owner-occupied for at least 185 days per year, allowing for a maximum of 180 days per year for short-term rentals.


In contrast to other jurisdictions, Alexandria does not require dwellings to be owner-occupied, offering greater flexibility with no cap on the rental days per year.

Prince Georges County

This area differentiates based on occupancy:

- Owner-occupied: Up to 180 days per year.

- Not owner-occupied: Limited to 90 days per year.

Montgomery County, MD

Montgomery County's regulations also vary by occupancy status:

- Not owner-occupied: A maximum of 120 days per year.

- Owner-occupied: No specified limit.

Beyond the basic definitions and limits, prospective short-term rental hosts must navigate additional requirements. These often include limits on the number of occupants, the necessity of off-street parking, registration requirements, and tax obligations on the generated income. Understanding and complying with these regulations is crucial for anyone looking to enter the short-term rental market in the DC area.


Short-term vacation rentals offer a promising avenue for income generation within the real estate sector. However, the patchwork of regulations across the DC area emphasizes the need for diligence and thorough research. For those considering this venture, staying informed and compliant is key to leveraging the opportunities presented by short-term rentals while navigating their challenges effectively.

Maximize Your Rental Income Potential

Navigating through DC's complex short-term rental regulations can seem daunting, but it’s a path laden with income opportunities for savvy homeowners.

Ready to transform your understanding of short-term rentals into real financial gain? 

Contact us today. Your journey to becoming a more successful, income-generating homeowner in the DC area begins now.

Let's Talk
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