POLL: Do You Back Local Regulations on Airbnb Rentals?

by Jennifer van der Kleut December 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm 11 Comments

Airbnb logo, photo via AirbnbIf you’re going away for vacation this holiday season, the idea of making some extra cash by renting out your home for a few days through a site like Airbnb might seem appealing. But make sure you check with the local rules and regulations, first.

The law in Fairfax County states that only owners of single-family homes can apply for a special permit that would allow them to rent out their domiciles like a bed and breakfast. That means people who own “attached homes” — such as apartments, townhouses and condos — are prohibited from renting out rooms.

Per the staff of the Reston Association, RA members must follow the same rules of the county.

Naturally, the duality means some locals aren’t happy. A blogger at Restonian recently wrote:

Apparently ‘Live, Work, Play, Get Involved’ doesn’t apply to peasants who own townhouses and condos. But – have a single-family home the rest of us can’t afford? Feel free to charge for visits. While this is more the fault of the county than the RA, we wonder what’s next.

RA CEO Cate Fulkerson said the association felt the need to clarify the regulations for RA members’ homes after some people complained.

“Reston Association is obligated to uphold its restrictive covenants. When we learned of home-sharing concerns from some of our members, the first task we undertook was to determine whether the homeowners [were] in compliance with state and local ordinances,” Fulkerson said in an email. “If we find that no approvals of licenses have been obtained, then we set out to work with the owner, in accordance with the Association’s Governing Document, to come into compliance.”

How do you feel about the rules? Weigh in by taking our poll below or letting us know how you feel in the comments:


  • Where does tyranny begin?

    When people acting in the name of government violate ethics, they break trust with “WE THE PEOPLE.” The natural result is for “WE THE PEOPLE” to pull back power (honor and allegiance).
    The loss of power creates fear for those losing the power. Fearing loss of power, people acting in the name of government often seek to regain or at least hold their power. Hence, to legitimize their quest for control, laws and force are often instituted.
    Unchecked power is the foundation of tyranny.

    This reflects the current state of affairs re RA government.

    • cRAzy


  • Arielle in NoVA

    It’s not just for the main residents – it’s for the neighbors too. An occasional rental might be one thing, but if people do this a lot – random folks coming and going on a regular basis make a neighborhood less secure, especially for kids who are out playing. It’s hard enough to know one’s neighbors these days; if some places that were lived in by one person or family end up being rentals, that’s pretty transient and thus unstable for the neighborhood in the big picture.

    • Red Star ☆

      In china you buy your real estate and pay your tax. After that nobody bothers. What you are playing around with is freedom.

      • cRAzy

        So go live in China–and see just how much freedom you have.

      • Waitwhat

        Agreed, Arielle. And residents of townhomes and condos put a lot of money into common areas. How could those areas be adequately protected? Parking…many townhome areas have just enough parking for residents. Would these spots, and any coveted available guest parking be respected? So, it’s not just “I own the property and can do as I wish”. There’s common space to consider.

        • Greg

          Townhouse and condo communities are usually private property. As such they set forth and enforce their own parking and occupancy rules and regulations.

          Fulkerson is spewing more of her ignorant nonsense while wasting more of your RA assessment dollars. There is nothing to be “clarified,” and it’s not the RA’s expense to enforce unclear, poorly crafted, county ordinances.

    • Reston Realist

      Thanks Arielle – That is the perfect answer

  • Greg

    Not true: “That means people who own “attached homes” — such as apartments, townhouses and condos — are prohibited from renting out rooms.”

    People rent rooms all the time — it’s short-term, transient rentals that the county is apparently trying (quite poorly) to regulate.

    Moreover, the zoning ordinance specifically addresses only owner- or manager-occupied residences, so those in which neither the owner nor the manager resides, are not covered or addressed.

    Finally, nearly all of Reston is PRC zoning, and the ordinance apparently allows for special exceptions for all all types of residential units.

    The Fairfax county zoning ordinance defines “bed and breakfast” as “a single family detached dwelling unit which is owner or manager occupied, in which five (5) or fewer guest rooms without cooking facilities are rented to transient visitors for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days.

    You may apply for this special exception if:

    You live in a single family home.
    You live in one of the following districts: R-P, R-C, R-E, R-1, R-2, PDH or PRC.

  • John Farrell

    If I wanted to live next to a hotel, I would have moved there.

    AirBNB is a hotel reservation app commercializing what are designed to be non-commercial residential areas.

  • Why do you bother?

    Get off my lawn! Go waste another $1 million and get your nose out of my bedroom(s).


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