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?

  • You may rent the entire dwelling to one family or a group of up to 6 people in all Residential, Commercial, Mixed-Use, and Downtown Districts.
  • You may rent an ADU to up to 4 people in all Residential, Commercial, Mixed-Use, and Downtown Districts.
  • 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.
    • 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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