Can I do vrbo (vacation rental) with this house? This is one of the most common questions investor home buyers ask their Realtor® in Sonoma county. Maybe you want some additional income from the home you purchase. Or maybe you want to buy a home and have confidence that your neighbors won’t be able to do short-term rentals. With a little background info, this is an easy question to answer.
Sonoma County has created an excellent web page to provide details: PRMD-Vacation Rentals
Here are the key guidelines for where you can and cannot obtain a permit and offer short-term rentals. Note: please check the PRMD web site for guidelines for allowing Hosted Rentals (short-term rentals where the homeowner remains on the property while renters are present). All you need to know is the zoning designation for the property you’re interested in.
Vacation rentals are allowed (with permit) in the following locations:
- In homes in single-family residential zoning districts (AR, RR, and R1)
- In existing single-family residences in the LC zoning district
- Agricultural and resource zones including LEA, DA, and RRD (except for lands within an Agricultural Preserve that is subject to a Land Conservation Act (Williamson Act) Contract)
Vacation rentals are not allowed in the following locations:
- Higher-density residential districts (R2 and R3)
- Lands within an Agricultural Preserve that is subject to a Land Conservation Act (Williamson Act) Contract
- Land Intensive Agriculture (LIA) zoned properties
- Accessory Dwelling Units (a.k.a. “Granny Units”)
- Farm Family, Agricultural Employee, or Farmworker housing units
- Areas designated (e.g. the Exclusion (X) Combining District)
#6 is very important if you are looking at property in the Sonoma Valley, Healdsburg, and Santa Rosa. Those are currently the only three communities where the X Combining District (also called the X Overlay) is in effect. You can find out whether a specific property is in the X Overlay by checking the PRMD web site either by neighborhood maps, or by the list of APNs (assessor parcel numbers) of the properties.
Confused? Your Realtor® can help you sort this out so you know up front whether a particular property will be able to have short-term rentals, before you get into contract.