Frequently Asked Questions about Short-Term Rentals

When did the Short-Term Rentals Ordinance go into effect?

The City adopted a Short-Term Rentals Ordinance in October 2021. 

What is a short-term rental? 

A short-term (sometimes called vacation) rental is defined as a residence where the owner rents out a bedroom(s) or the entire property for guests staying 30 days or fewer. Short-term rentals can be hosted or non-hosted.

What is the difference between a hosted and a non-hosted short-term rental? 

A hosted short-term rental is defined as a short-term rental where the owner lives and sleeps in the dwelling unit, or lives and sleeps in another legal dwelling unit on the same parcel, throughout the short-term rental period. Hosted short-term rentals are allowed only in the owner’s primary residence. Hosted rentals are permitted throughout the City with no distance requirements between them or another short-term rental of any kind.

A non-hosted short-term rental is defined as a short-term rental where the owner does not live and sleep in the dwelling unit during the short-term rental period. Starting Dec. 4, the City will not allow a newly proposed non-hosted short-term rental within 1,000 feet of another non-hosted short-term rental.

How do I decide if I am a hosted or non-hosted short-term rental? 

See the definitions of hosted and non-hosted above. If you have questions, email the City at shorttermrentals@srcity.org.

Some short-term rental owners may choose to operate both hosted and non-hosted short-term rentals in the same residence but at different times. For instance, the owner of a short-term rental may rent the entire residence as a non-hosted short-term rental while out of town and then rent out bedrooms as a hosted short-term rental while in town and living and sleeping in the residence. For these situations, the short-term rental operation is classified as a non-hosted short-term rental.

What is my property is associate with an HOA?

It is an applicant’s responsibility to verify whether short-term rental activity is prohibited by a Homeowners Association's (HOA) Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) prior to submitting a Short-Term Rental Permit application.

CC&Rs are governing documents approved by and specific to an HOA and as such, the City has no obligation or authority to enforce them. HOA boards enforce CC&Rs, and the City enforces ordinances adopted by its governing bodies.

The California Civil Code provides owners general right to enforce their HOA’s CC&Rs against neighboring owners and the HOA itself. CC&Rs are enforceable by the owner of any lot in the development (Civil Code section 1354(a)); a homeowner is authorized to bring an enforcement action against another homeowner or the HOA itself to enforce CC&Rs (Civil Code section 5975).

What is an operator in good standing versus a new operator?

An operator in good standing is a short-term rental owner who was registered to pay the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and Santa Rosa Tourism Business Improvement Area (BIA) assessments for each short-term rental by October 7, 2021, OR who registered to pay the City’s TOT and BIA for each short-term rental between October 7 and October 27 and provided proof of prior short-term rental activity during 2021 with their Short-Term Rental Permit Application. In addition, to retain operator in good standing status, these short-term rental owners must have submitted a Short-Term Rental Permit Application prior to December 3, 2021. Operators in good standing may continue to rent, advertise, or offer a short-term rental at the address listed on the Short-Term Rental Permit Application while awaiting city approvals and when operating in compliance with all other ordinance requirements.

New short-term rental operators are any operators who do not fit the definition of an operator in good standing. New operators must obtain city approvals prior to renting, offering, or advertising a short-term rental.

What registrations or permits are required for a short-term rental to operate in compliance with the Ordinance? 

All short-term rental owners must register to pay the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and Santa Rosa Tourism Business Improvement Area (BIA) assessments for each short-term rental and must obtain a Short-Term Rental Permit for each short-term rental.

New operators (see above) must register for TOT and BIA assessments submit a Short-Term Rental Permit Application. To initiate the TOT and/or BIA registration process, please submit the registration form to Revenue@srcity.org. If you have questions about this process, please visit srcity.org/TOT. New operators must obtain city approvals prior to renting, offering, or advertising a short-term rental.

A Short-Term Rental Permit may only be issued to an Owner and only for a dwelling unit at a fixed location and address. Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and Junior ADUs are prohibited from use as short-term rentals unless they were legally permitted prior to January 2018.

How do I register my short-term rental for BIA assessments?

Revenue staff will automatically register your short-term rental for BIA assessments as part of the TOT registration process.

Do I need to obtain a Business Tax Certificate?

Any short-term rental owner who operates four or rentals of any type within Santa Rosa city limits must also obtain a Santa Rosa Business Tax Certificate. Visit the City's page on the obtaining a Business Tax Certificate for more information about how to apply for a Business Tax Certificate.

What requirements must a short-term-rental operator follow to be in compliance? 

For more information, visit the "Maintain Compliance for a Short-Term Rental" page.

Where can a short-term rental operate in the City? 

Hosted short-term rentals can operate anywhere in the City and within any distance of another short-term rental of any kind.

Non-hosted short-term rentals can operate in the following zoning districts including those located within an overlay district (e.g. -H, -DSA, etc):

  • Core Mixed Use (CMU)
  • Station Mixed Use (SMU)
  • Maker Mixed Use (MMU)
  • Neighborhood Mixed Use (NMU)
  • Rural Residential (RR)
  • Single Family Dwelling (R-1)
  • Residential Planned Development (PD), where not explicitly prohibited
  • Medium Density Multi-Family Residential (R-2)
  • Multi-Family Residential (R-3)
  • Transit Village Residential (TV-R)
  • Office Commercial (CO)
  • Neighborhood Commercial (CN)
  • Community Shopping Center (CSC)
  • General Commercial (CG), and
  • Transit Village-Mixed (TVM)

For assistance with determining which zoning district your property is located in, please visit https://srcity.org/1263/Find-Your-Zoning-District.

Effective December 4th, 2021, no new non-hosted short-term rentals may be proposed within 1,000 feet from the property line of another existing or proposed non-hosted short-term rental. Hosted short-term rentals are not subject to an overconcentration requirement.

Use the City of Santa Rosa Permit Search Tool and Non-hosted Overconcentration Evaluation Instructions to determine if your proposed non-hosted short-term rental is at least 1,000 feet from another existing or proposed non-hosted short-term rental site prior to submitting an application..