Henrico leaders approve short-terms rentals, like Airbnb, to operate across county

Henrico leaders approve short-terms rentals, like Airbnb, to operate across county
Henrico County leaders have approved changes to the zoning ordinance to allow short-term rentals to operate across the county. (Source: NBC12)

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Henrico leaders have approved a change in the ordinance to allow short-term rentals, like Airbnb, to operate across the county, with certain restrictions.

The Board of Supervisors amended the zoning ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting allowing these rentals to operate in some residential districts. Apartments, town-homes, and urban mixed-used developments, like Libbie Mill, would not be permitted to operate short-term rentals.

“Short-term rentals would be allowed in the one-family residence districts (R-0 through R-4),” the summary of the draft regulations stated.

As part of this measure, the Board also approved an occupancy tax and registry proposal for these rentals.

Short-term rental operators must register their “dwellings” annually for a fee of $200. Henrico Director of Planning, Joe Emerson, said the intent is that you’re charging the cost of providing the registry and providing the use of it throughout the year. If the operator does not register their rental they could face a penalty of $500 for each violation.

The operator must also pay an 8% transient occupancy tax on the rentals.

“It’s a fee that’s already applied to anyone who’s doing the allowed short-term use in the County which are hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts,” Emerson said.

Under the now approved zoning ordinance, there is also a difference between “hosted” and “unhosted” stays.

“Hosted” short-term rentals are defined as a homeowner living in the house and renting a room or two, as in the traditional bed and breakfast inn. If the homeowner is out of town and renting the whole house in their absence, that is an “unhosted” rental.

The zoning ordinance amendment further breaks down the regulations for “hosted” and “unhosted” rentals.

Hosted short-term rental would be allowed with no special zoning approval under the following circumstances:

  • The rental is in the principal dwelling, and
  • The lot has at least 80 feet of frontage on a public street, and
  • There are no more than six renters at any time, and
  • The total number of days per year does not exceed 60.

A conditional use permit must be obtained if the owner wants to rent for:

  • Any unhosted stays, or
  • Any rental in a guest house, or
  • Any rental of a lot with less than 80 feet of public street frontage, or
  • Any rental to more than six renters, or
  • If the total number of days per year exceeds 60.

The Board of Zoning Appeals may approve or deny the conditional use permit based on the specific circumstances of the request.

The short-term rental ordinance is expected to go into effect July 1, 2020.

Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.