Frequently Asked Questions about Short-Term Rentals

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

As of Oct. 13, 2021, the Short-Term Rentals Urgency Ordinance is in effect. Some portions of the urgency ordinance have timelines depending on when the short-term rental operator registers(ed) to pay the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and Santa Rosa Tourism Business Improvement Area (BIA) assessments (see below).

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.

How is “bedroom” defined?

A bedroom is a room that meets all of the following minimum requirements:

  • Has a permanent provision for sleeping;
  • Is at least 70 sf in size when used for one occupant and at least 100 sf in size when used for two occupants;
  • Has no dimension of less than 7';
  • Has an emergency escape and rescue opening to the outside of the dwelling; and
  • Meets light, ventilation and heating criteria per the California Building or California Residential Code in effect at the time of the room's construction.

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

An operator in good standing will have registered to pay the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and Santa Rosa Tourism Business Improvement Area (BIA) assessments for each short-term rental on or before October 7, 2021, OR an operator in good standing will have registered to pay the City’s TOT and BIA for each short-term rental between October 7 and October 27 and provided with their Short-Term Rental Permit Application, proof of prior short-term rental activity during 2021.

Short-term rental operators in good standing must submit a Short-Term Rental Permit Application prior to December 3, 2021 to retain operator in good standing status. 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 may apply for a new Short-Term Rental Permit starting Dec. 4, 2021, and 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.

Operators in good standing (see above) must submit a complete Short-Term Rental Permit Application accompanied by the Short-Term Rental Permit application fee of $1, 129 by December 3, 2021 to retain operator in good standing status. 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 operators (see above) can register for TOT and BIA assessments now and may submit a Short-Term Rental Permit Application starting Dec. 4. 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.

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 more short-term rentals 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.

Starting Dec. 4, 2021, the City will not allow a newly proposed non-hosted short-term rental within 1,000 feet of another non-hosted short-term rental.