Short Term Rental Regulations

What are short term rentals?

Generally speaking, a short term rental is a residential property in which a property owner (host) rents a room, rooms, or an entire property to a guest(s) for a fee for less than 30 consecutive nights. Short term rentals are not new, but the growth in home-sharing through online platforms has increased. Examples of on-line platforms include AirBnB, HomeAway and VRBO.

How does the City of Olympia address short term rentals?

The Washington State Legislature adopted regulations for short term rentals in 2019 (House Bill 1798). The City of Olympia currently doesn't have specific regulations addressing short term rentals, however, the City is taking a closer look at these rentals to establish rules that are balanced and equitable for all lodging businesses.

Other cities have taken a variety of approaches to regulating short term rentals, and we need your help to develop a sound process for Olympia that:

  • Aligns with Olympia’s context and priorities
  • Protects public and private interests
  • Promotes fairness
  • Helps meet our social and economic needs

We need your input!

The City has identified the following six goals for short term rental regulations.

  1. Housing: Establish protections for the supply and affordability of housing
  2. Health and Safety: Identify unwanted behaviors and negative consequences
  3. Neighborhood Integrity: Minimize impacts and tensions between short term rentals and neighbors
  4. Fees and Taxes: Ensure equitable permit and tax compliance
  5. Enforcement: Enact enforceable policies that improve building, safety, and accessibility requirements
  6. Economic Development: Ensure an equitable approach with existing local firms and providers and their employees, and enable revenue opportunities for existing residents

Let us know what you think about each of these goals using the following tools below.

  • Comments: Tell us what you think about the six goals for short term rental regulations.
  • Stories: Share your stories about living near, staying in or operating a short term rental.


What are short term rentals?

Generally speaking, a short term rental is a residential property in which a property owner (host) rents a room, rooms, or an entire property to a guest(s) for a fee for less than 30 consecutive nights. Short term rentals are not new, but the growth in home-sharing through online platforms has increased. Examples of on-line platforms include AirBnB, HomeAway and VRBO.

How does the City of Olympia address short term rentals?

The Washington State Legislature adopted regulations for short term rentals in 2019 (House Bill 1798). The City of Olympia currently doesn't have specific regulations addressing short term rentals, however, the City is taking a closer look at these rentals to establish rules that are balanced and equitable for all lodging businesses.

Other cities have taken a variety of approaches to regulating short term rentals, and we need your help to develop a sound process for Olympia that:

  • Aligns with Olympia’s context and priorities
  • Protects public and private interests
  • Promotes fairness
  • Helps meet our social and economic needs

We need your input!

The City has identified the following six goals for short term rental regulations.

  1. Housing: Establish protections for the supply and affordability of housing
  2. Health and Safety: Identify unwanted behaviors and negative consequences
  3. Neighborhood Integrity: Minimize impacts and tensions between short term rentals and neighbors
  4. Fees and Taxes: Ensure equitable permit and tax compliance
  5. Enforcement: Enact enforceable policies that improve building, safety, and accessibility requirements
  6. Economic Development: Ensure an equitable approach with existing local firms and providers and their employees, and enable revenue opportunities for existing residents

Let us know what you think about each of these goals using the following tools below.

  • Comments: Tell us what you think about the six goals for short term rental regulations.
  • Stories: Share your stories about living near, staying in or operating a short term rental.


Do you have stories about living near, staying in or operating a short-term rental that you would like to share? Tell us here. You can also include pictures and video.

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  • We love our nearby AirBnb

    by Ange, 21 days ago

    We have an Airbnb rental in our neighborhood that is beautifully maintained and professionally managed. We appreciate having a perfect place nearby to accommodate our family and friends when they visit. We also enjoy meeting the guests as they come and go from places all over the world. It adds to the culture and dynamic of our neighborhood in a positive way! This rental is perfect as a rental; It cannot accommodate both guests and its owner. This is why I am writing this: in hopes that the proposed rule that would require a short term rental owner to reside... Continue reading

  • Legislator Housing

    by LegislatorinOly, 23 days ago

    I rent a house in Olympia during the legislative session. I rent it for the entire session with a few days on either side.


    It is a HUGE relief that I can rent a furnished house with linens, kitchen items, even cleaning products instead of having to move in and out of a house or have two sets of everything as I still need to maintain my home in my district. My kids can come stay with me, I can fit my bike and I get to live in a neighborhood.


    Since we are part-time legislators, many of us have... Continue reading

  • From our guest, the mom of a disabled child

    by Dana, about 1 month ago

    Staying in a home vs a hotel dramatically reduces stress when traveling like this and I’m extremely grateful that people like you open your homes. Deeply grateful for the experience, and when time permits, I try to leave no trace. Thanks again and talk soon!

  • Sharing a home with travelers while keeping neighbors in mind

    by Dana, about 1 month ago

    We own and lived in our Olympia S Cap. house for 20+ years before relocating to a rural WA town. We love our Oly house, neighbors, and community and may very well come back to that home when we are older. The home remains furnished and we enjoy using it occasionally to catch up with friends, neighbors and cultural events. In the five years since moving away we have rented to legislative and State officials and, over the last 2 years, on the Airbnb platform. The Airbnb chapter has been a more positive experience for these reasons: guests have taken... Continue reading

  • Olybungalows

    by Olyellen , about 2 months ago

    I have operated 2 guest houses on the eastern edge of downtown since 2011. My business is incorporated as an LLC. Prior to opening my business I contacted the city of Olympia to make sure I complied with existing regulations regarding my business. I pay federal, state and local licenses and taxes. When I opened for business online booking services were in their infancy and I relied on word of mouth and my business website. Since that time I am listed on one online booking service and get the majority of my bookings through that service. I offer nightly, weekly... Continue reading

  • Short term rentals reduce the housing stock for residents

    by gailosullivan, about 2 months ago

    Until recently, I was the owner/operator for more than 25 "heads in beds," as we say in the industry. I co-owned and managed two bed and breakfasts and several stand alone units, all turning over on a nightly rate. It provided an income for my partner and I for over 20 years. Now I have only 1 unit that rents nightly. My work load and income have shrunk together to a place that suits me. But I did it for one main reason: People need homes. Travelers can stay in hotels. Every time someone rents out their extra bedroom to... Continue reading