When deciding whether to become an Airbnb Host, it's important for you to understand the laws in your city. As a platform and marketplace we do not provide legal advice, but we want to provide some useful links that may help you better understand laws and regulations in the District of Columbia. This list is not exhaustive, but it should give you a good start in understanding your local laws. If you have questions, contact the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs using the District of Columbia Short-Term Rental Hotline at 202-221-8550 or other city agencies directly, or consult a local lawyer or tax professional.
In Washington, DC there is a primary residence requirement for short-term rental Hosts. If you are interested in becoming a short-term rental Host (30 consecutive nights or less) please consider that you may need to register with the city and receive a short-term rental license.
Long term stays, hotels, and motels are exempt from registering as short-term rentals. If your listing is exempt from short-term rental licensing requirements, you don’t need to obtain a short-term rental license, but you will still need to claim an exemption through Airbnb to keep hosting.
Step 1: Apply for a license with a short-term rental endorsement (Host on site during stay) and/or vacation rental endorsement (Host not on site during stay)
The city application processing time is typically expected to be 3 to 5 days.
DCRA requirements to complete the registration process:
- Sign up for an Access DC account, if you don’t already have one.
- Register for DCRA’s Short-Term Rental Licensing Platform to start the application process. DCRA will ask you for basic information and to link your license platform account with the home address where you will be conducting short-term rentals.
- Once your address has been verified, you will be asked to complete the full license application and pay the licensing fees.
To submit the full license application, you must have:
- A Certificate of Clean Hands issued within the last 30 days in the property owner’s name. To obtain a Certificate of Clean Hands, you must (1) sign up for MyTax.DC.gov, the DC Office of Tax and Revenue’s online taxpayer portal, if you have not already, and (2) submit a Certificate of Clean Hands Request through the portal.
- Proof of liability insurance with a minimum of $250,000 in coverage must be provided. If you host exclusively through Airbnb, our Host liability insurance satisfies this requirement. In this case, you may include a screenshot of the Airbnb Host Liability Insurance page in your application as proof of liability insurance.
- Completed Short-Term/Vacation Rental Attestation Form if your property is in an association (HOA, condo, CoOp, etc.)
- Credit/debit card to pay the license fees.
Step 2: Add your license number(s) to your listing
When advertising your space, your license number must always be included in the listing. To make it easier for Hosts to display their number, Airbnb now allows Hosts in Washington, DC to fill in their license number in a dedicated field in the registration section of a listing.
Step 3: Track the nights you host
If you only have a STR (short-term rental) license to host on site, there is no need to track your nights since they aren’t capped by Washington, DC.
If you only have a VR (vacation rental) license, you can track the nights you have remaining out of the total cap of 90 nights per calendar year mandated by DC, by visiting your listing page and going to Laws and regulations.
If you are hosting off site and on site with both a VR and STR license, here’s what you need to know about tracking your nights.
- The total number of nights available for guest bookings is calculated by the number of nights you’re on site and off site.
- Washington, DC lets you host up to 90 nights while off site.
- You can host an unlimited amount of nights while on site in addition to the 90 off site nights. The total number of nights available for bookings will be capped at 90 until you add nights on site. Add the number of on site nights to your listing page under Laws and regulations.
Here’s an example: You start with 90 nights off site. Then, if you add 60 nights on site, you’ll have 150 nights available for bookings.
- Payment. The total cost for a two-year short-term rental or vacation rental license is $104.50, which includes a $70 processing fee, a $25 endorsement fee, and a 10% technology fee.
- Zoning laws. The DC Zoning Code contains definitions that may be relevant to your listing, including but not limited to “accommodations, transient,” “boarding house,” “hotel,” “inn,” and “motel.” These types of uses are permitted only in certain parts of the city.
- Taxes. The District of Columbia applies two taxes totaling 14.5% that apply to various transient accommodations. More information is available in the DC Code, Sections 47-2002 and 47-2002.02. Airbnb collects and remits these taxes in the District of Columbia; get more information about that process.
- Other rules. It's also important to understand and abide by other contracts or rules that bind you, such as leases, condo board or co-op rules, HOA rules, or rules established by tenant organizations. Please read your lease agreement and check with your landlord if applicable.
Host damage protection and Host liability insurance
Airbnb's Host damage protection and Airbnb's Host liability insurance are two Airbnb programs for property damage protection and liability insurance. These programs don't take the place of homeowners insurance, renters insurance, or any other applicable liability coverage.
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