Short Term Rentals

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What are short term rentals?

Short-term rentals are residential units, or in some cases individual rooms within units, in which the owner rents to guests for less than 30 days at a time. Some property owners may desire to use their home to provide such lodging as an alternative to the typical hotel or motel accommodations customarily available to Tacoma visitors. Short-term rentals are allowed in many areas of the City, but there are some limitations and requirements that are designed to help ensure they are operated in a safe manner and do not significantly affect the residential character of the neighborhood.

Bed and Breakfast

Types of short-term rentals

Examples of short-term rentals include bed and breakfast and room and home rentals through services such as AirBNB and VRBO.  There are three common types:

  • Rental of an entire home for short-term stays
  • Rental of an entire separate unit for short-term stays, such as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) or “mother-in-law unit”
  • Rental of individual rooms within a home for short-term stays

Do I need to live there?

The owner must reside in the home if renting individual rooms or a separate unit, such as an ADU. If renting the entire home, then the owner is not required to reside there.

How many rooms can I rent and how many people may occupy the short-term rental?

  • You may rent the entire dwelling or ADU in all Residential, Commercial, Mixed-Use, and Downtown Districts. Occupancy of the dwelling or ADU will be determined by Minimum Building and Structures Code in Title 2. As stated above, when you have an ADU, you may only rent the ADU or the main dwelling; but not both. The owner must occupy the other structure.
  • You may rent 1-2 guest rooms within an owner-occupied dwelling in all Residential Districts, including single-family districts.
  • You may rent 3-9 guest rooms, after receiving an approved Conditional Use Permit (CUP), in
    R-3, R-4L, R-4, R-5, RCX, and NRX Districts (these are generally residential districts that allow duplex, triplex, and multifamily dwellings).
  • You may rent 1-9 guest rooms in all Commercial, Mixed-Use and Downtown Districts (except RCX and NRX – see above).

Before you operate a rental:

    • Obtain a City of Tacoma Business License from the City’s Tax and License Office.  A Transient Accommodation License is also required if renting 3 or more individual rooms.
    • Provide applicable local laws and information to renters, including that the personal use of fireworks and possession of fireworks is illegal in Tacoma. Other Seasonal and emergency information is posted on the City’s website and social media.
    • Make sure you have a safety sign in each room/unit that shows the location of fire extinguishers, gas shut-off valves, fire exits, and/or fire alarm.
    • Make sure you have operating smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
    • Check with the State Department of Revenue regarding their standards and tax requirements.

Resources (Tacoma Municipal Code, TMC)

  • TMC 13.06.080.A – Short Term Rental in ADUs
  • TMC 13.06.080.M – Short Term Rentals
  • TMC 6B.20 – Annual Business License
  • TMC 6B.140 – Transient Accommodations

For more information:


Phone:  (253) 591-5030


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