Community Development  |  Homestays


Applying for a Homestays Permit

Changes to Homestays Regulations

What is a Homestay? 

Homestays are an accessory residential use providing transient lodging and rooms for less than 30 days at a time.

Other names for homestays include: Accessory Tourist Lodging, Bed and Breakfasts, AirBnB, short-term rentals (STR), and short-term lodging (STL). 


How do I get a permit to have a Homestay? 


The entire application packet is available here:

Homestays Packet

1. Call or email a Zoning staff member to discuss your application and parcel requirements. If you would like to discuss your application in person, schedule an appointment in advance.  

2. Confirm your parcel acreage and whether your property is located in a Residential or Planned Residential District or the Rural Areas district using the Zoning Map of the County GIS. Confirm the requirements for Homestays in your zoning district for your parcel size using the chart below. 

3. Prepare a Floor Plan Sketch labeled with (i) all structures used for the homestay, (ii) guest bedrooms and guest spaces, (iii) access ot he parcel, on-site parking, any outdoor lighting or signage for the homestay, and setbacks (see chart for setbacks). If it is not clear from the plan, label the bedrooms where the owner will be staying during non-whole-house homestay rentals. 

4. If you will be serving food to your guests, or if you parcel is located in the Rural Areas district, contact the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) for your Transient Lodging Review approval.

5. Complete the homestays application.

6. Follow the Fire Marshal and Building Inspector's Homestay Safety Checklist (below). 

7. By either mail or in person, submit your completed homestay application, two forms of identification showing proof of residence, your approved VDH Transient Lodging Review (if necessary), and the $158 application fee to:

Albemarle County Community Development
401 McIntire Road, North Wing
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Unfortunately, we are currently unable to accept applications via email. 

8. Once your Zoning Clearance application is recieved, County staff with send you a list of abutting parcel owners. Send a letter to the parcel owners on this list noting that you are applying for a homestays permit, and providing your name, phone number, and emergency contact information, as well as the name, telephone number, and emergency contact number of your Responsible Agent. Send a copy of this letter to Albemarle County Community Development at the address listed above. 

9. Contact the Building Official to schedule your fire safety and building code inspection.

10. If deemed necessary, Zoning may contact you to arrange a Zoning inspection.

11. If all inspections are approved, you will receive an emailed copy of your approved permit. 

12. Take your approved permit to the Finance Office to apply for a Business License and begin paying taxes. Learn more about the business requirements for homestays here

13. Every year following your approval, you will renew your homestay on the Short Term Rentals Registry and have your homestay inspected for safety compliance by the Fire Marshal. 



 Zoning  Acreage  Dwelling Type  Number of Guest Bedrooms  Use of Accessory Structure  Required Setbacks  Whole House Rental  Residency
 Residential District  Any Detached single family   2* Not permitted*  Minimum primary structure setbacks * Not permitted  Owner-only* 
 Rural Areas  <5 acres Detached single family  2* Not permitted*   125 feet* Not permitted   Owner-only*
 Rural Areas 5+ acres  Detached single family  5 Permitted if built before August 7, 2019*   125 feet* Permitted for 7 days/month, up to 45 days/year   Owner-only

 *may be waived or modified through a Special Exception



What's a responsible agent?

The responsible agent must be available within 30 miles of the homestay at all times during the homestay use and must respond and attempt in good faith to resolve any compliant(s) within 60 minutes of being contacted. The responsible agent may initially respond to a complaint by requeting homestay guest(s) to take such action as is required to resolve the complaint. The responsible agent also may be required to visit the homestay if necessary to resolve the complaint. 

What's a whole house rental? 

A whole house rental is a homestay during which the owner is not present. A responsible agent must be available during these rentals. The owner must track whole house rentals and be able to provide this list to the Zoning Administrator upon request.  

What does residency mean? Can I rent out my vacation home? When can I rent out my home?

The owner of the parcel on which a homestay is located must reside on the parcel for a minimum of 180 days in a calendar year and be present during homestay rentals. Standard (non-whole-house rentals) are only permitted during the 180 days of residency.  

What is an acceptable proof of residency?

Acceptable proof of permanent residence includes: driver's license, voter registration card, U.S. passport, or othr document(s) that the Zoning Administrator determines provide equivalent proof of permanent residence.  

What if I already have a Bed and Breakfast or Accessory Tourist Lodging permit?

Any Bed and Breakfast or Accessory Tourist Lodging permit approved prior to August 7, 2019 may continue as it was approved. Pre-existing homestays seeking to do whole house rentals must reapply. 



- The address of the property has to be posted at the driveway so emergency vehicles can find the property. If more than two structures are located on the property, the addresses must also be located on the individual structures. Each structure used for a homestay must have its own unique address. 

- A 2A:10BC fire extinguisher installed in the kitchen area, preferably on a wall and not in a cabinet.

- An emergency evacuation floor plan showing direction to the exterior and also contains the 911 address of the property in each habitable room. This is similar to the diagram you see on the back of your hotel room door showing where to go in an emergency.

- An operable emergency escape and rescue opening in each bedroom. Layman’s terms, window not painted shut that meets the building code.

- No extension cords used in lieu of permeant wiring. Power strips are allowed if sized properly and contain overcurrent protection built into the strip.

- Access to the electrical panel box must be made available to the tenant at all times.

- Interconnected smoke alarms installed in each sleeping room, outside each sleeping room in the vicinity of the bedrooms, on each additional story of the dwelling, including basements and habitable attics, as required by the Building Code.



Zoning Staff: Rebecca Ragsdale,, 434-296-5832, ext. 3226 OR Lea Brumfield,, 434-296-5832, ext. 3023

Building Official: Michael Dellinger,, 434-296-5832 ext. 3228

Health Department: Alan Mazurowski, (434) 972-6219

Finance Department: 434-296-5851, Option 3



Homestays Application

Submit this application via mail or in person to:

Albemarle County
Community Development
401 McIntire Road
Charlottesville, VA 22902