If you own or operate a short-term rental property within the City of Seattle, you may be impacted by the City’s 2018 ordinance regulating such short-term rental properties. Examples of short-term rentals are those rented through short-term rental “platforms” such as Airbnb and VRBO. The ordinance limits the number of short-term rental properties that an individual owner may operate within the city’s territorial limits and imposes additional licensing and registration requirements on owners and operators of such properties.  Effective January 1, 2019, if you legally operated one or more short-term rental properties prior to September 30, 2017, with limited exception, you are limited to three short-term rental properties within city limits, including your primary residence if it is rented out on a short-term basis. If your short term-rental became operational after September 30, 2017, you are limited to only one short-term rental, in addition to your primary residence.  Owners and operators will be required to license their short term-rental properties with the City’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services beginning on January 2, 2019. The license fee is $75 per unit and must be renewed annually.

If you own or operate a short-term rental property that is not your primary residence, you must also register that property under the city’s rental registration and inspection (“RRIO”) program, which is administered by the Department of Construction and Inspections.  Registration for the RRIO program is available now. Prior to registration, we recommend you carefully review the RRIO Checklist to ensure that your property complies with the RRIO ordinance. Note that once your property has been registered, it will be subject to inspection at any time.

In addition to the City’s license and registration requirements, owners and operators of short-term rental properties must register with the Washington State Department of Revenue and collect and remit retail sales tax and applicable lodging taxes on their rental charges. In some instances, property owners may choose to use the services of a property manager or an online marketplace or “platform” for booking and tax collection purposes. Additionally, gross income derived from such rentals is subject to the state’s business and occupation (B&O) tax, which is a gross receipts tax imposed directly on the owner or operator.

If you have any questions or concerns about the City’s regulation of short-term rental properties, please contact David Petteys or Eric Stoll at (206) 456-6697, or via email at info@stollpetteys.com.