Landlords and short-term residential rentals, like on Airbnb, have asked supervisors to waive taxes and regulations as the county continues to create new rules around these rooms.
The county already requires short-term residential rentals to register with the county government each year, as part of an ongoing attempt to count, tax and regulate the historically unregulated market. But supervisors launched a second round of work in July when it became clear that although there are now regulations on such rentals in Loudoun, under Loudoun zoning ordinances, there are no places where they are allowed. Because Loudoun’s zoning ordinances are complaint-based, no enforcement action is taken unless a complaint is filed with the county.
Supervisors voted unanimously in July to direct county staffers to draft a zoning update proposal, which would regulate things like the maximum number of guests and rooms to rent per home, how often a property can be used for a rental, whether they should be able to hold events like weddings and parties, parking standards, whether owners should live there, and if and how rentals whole houses would be allowed. The new regulations would also determine where in the county such rentals are permitted by right or through a special application review process.
The proposed order would limit rentals to a maximum of 180 days per year, with up to 10 guests at a time, as well as various security requirements.
But county supervisors voted unanimously on Oct. 17 to give new guidance to county staffers, after fresh input from the public made it clear there was still more work to be done. While county officials had talked about renting out individual rooms in a house, they hadn’t considered renting out an entire house — something that’s also already done and, according to a county report, for which people expressed their support at public meetings. organized by Visit Loudoun in September.
And while renting rooms would be an accessory use of a dwelling, a commercial rental of the whole house would be the primary use of that property and an ongoing business.
“Thank you for supporting commercial whole home rentals and taking this as an area to consider as this is an area where we have transitioned our business and our family into owning and renting property” , Donnie Walker told Oct. 17. Supervisory board meeting. “We found this to be a great place to take long term rentals. When we are looking for another long term tenant, we use the property as a short term rental.
But he asked supervisors not to over-regulate.
“I want to make sure this settlement is done in a way that these companies can still interact, just like our breweries or our wineries,” Walker said. “Don’t overemphasize the regulations that hurt them.”
Reagan Morse said she had several listings in the Waterford and Lovettsville areas, and said they were a necessity for the area. She said when she worked as an events manager at a winery, “When someone booked the site, I was like, ‘Next thing you do, you have to book a hotel, you have to get those reservations. We we have so many people coming to the county, hotels, motels book up so fast, and many people are looking for the cookie-cutter experience.
Landlords who rent property without registering with the county face a $500 penalty, up to $5,000 in total. Violation of the registration requirement would also prohibit registration for one or two years, while violation of more than three state or local laws and regulations would prohibit registration for one year.
According to a presentation from a September meeting on short-term residential rentals, only 120 rentals — some of those operating in the county — have registered. In June, Visit Loudoun counted 430 properties with these short-term rentals in the county, 377 of which are outside the city limits and under county jurisdiction.
Businesses are also required to pay the county business, professional, and professional license tax. Those who rent less than seven rooms and have annual gross receipts of less than $4,000 are exempt. With seven or more rooms and up to $200,000 in gross receipts, businesses pay a license fee of $30, and beyond that, 23 cents per $100 in gross receipts.