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Vacation Rental Permits & Licensing

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Vacation Rental Licenses Now Required

A Vacation Rental License is now required for all vacation rentals outside of the coastal zone (PDF). For information on how to obtain a license, please visit Vacation Rental Permit and License Application.

Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals are the rental of a whole private residence for periods of 30 days or less. Vacation Rentals do not include Bed and Breakfast Inns or hosted rentals, which are regulated differently.

Vacation rentals must have each of the following:

Information on how to apply: Vacation Rental Permit and License Application

Coastal Zone: The owners of Coastal Zone vacation rentals are not required to have a zoning permit or vacation rental license at this time, but must register to pay Transient Occupancy Tax.


Vacation Rental Applications and Where Allowed

Vacation Rentals vs. Hosted Rentals

Below are key characteristics/differences between vaction rentals and hosted rentals.

Vacation Hosted

Vacation rentals are the rental of a private residence for periods of 30 days or less.

Hosted rentals are the rental of a single room or sleeping area within a single-family dwelling, where the property owner remains in residence.

Vacation rentals do not include Bed and Breakfast Inns or hosted rentals permitted in accordance with the Sonoma County Code for B&Bs and hosted rentals, or occasional home exchanges that are not otherwise subject to Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).

Hosted rentals do not include vacation rentals permitted in accordance with the Sonoma County Code for vacation rentals, or occasional home exchanges that are not otherwise subject to Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).

Vacation rentals must have a Certified Vacation Property Manager and meet Performance Standards to ensure compatibility with surrounding residential uses.

Hosted rentals must meet Performance Standards to ensure compatibility with surrounding residential uses.

Read More About Vacation Rentals

Read More About Hosted Rentals

Where are Vacation Rentals Allowed?

Vacation rentals are allowed (with a permit) in the following locations:

  • In certain Agriculture Residential (AR), Rural Residential (RR), and Planned Community Rural Residential (PCRR) zoning districts
  • In existing single-family residences in the C2, LC, and K zoning districts
  • In certain Agricultural and Resource zones, including Land Extensive Agriculture (LEA), Diverse Agriculture (DA), and Resource and Rural Development (RRD)
  • In certain Vacation Rental Cap Zone Combining Districts where concentrations are below the designated cap

Vacation rentals are not allowed in the following locations:

  • The Low-Density Residential zone (R1)
  • Higher-density residential districts (R2, R3)
  • Lands within an Agricultural Preserve that is subject to a Land Conservation Act (Williamson Act) Contract
  • Land Intensive Agriculture (LIA) zoned properties
  • Accessory Dwelling Units (previously known as Second Dwelling Units)
  • Farm Family, Agricultural Employee, or Farmworker housing units
  • Temporary structures (Yurts, tiny homes on wheels, etc.)
  • Non-habitable structures
  • Areas designated as Vacation Rental Exclusion (X) Combining District and areas of over concentration in Vacation Rental Cap Zone Combining Districts

If you are unsure of what your zoning is, please consult Permit Sonoma's Official Zoning Database.

Please also review our new Vacation Rental Map Viewer to see if your parcel is allowed to have a Vacation Rental!

How to Apply for a Vacation Rental Permit and Fees

Vacation Rental Applications

A successful Vacation Rental Application will complete four steps. 

  1. Become a Certified Vacation Rental Property Manager.
  2. Obtain Transient Vacation Rental Permit (Zoning Permit).
  3. Obtain Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Number.
  4. Obtain Vacation Rental License.

Learn More: Vacation Rental Permitting Process, How to Apply, Renewal, and Fees


Complaints and How to File

If you experience problems with a nearby vacation rental property in unincorporated Sonoma County, there is a process for submitting a complaint about that vacation rental property.

Learn More About the Complaint Process


Violations

Information is for property owners who have received a violation notice for Operating a Vacation Rental without the required zoning permit or Operating a Hosted Rental without a required zoning permit.

Vacation Rental and Hosted Rental Violations


Property Manager Information

A property manager who is certified by Sonoma County is required for all vacation rental properties. Learn more information on the property manager requirement, certification process and materials, updating property manager contact information, and reporting forms.

Property Managers


Cessation of Vacation Rental Use

Vacation Rental Zoning Permits and Hosted Rental Zoning Permits expire automatically upon the sale or transfer of a vacation rental or hosted rental property. Property owners who have sold their property should also let Permit Sonoma know as soon as possible in order not to be held liable for any vacation rental or hosted rental use of the property once it has been sold.

This form should be completed and submitted in all cases where the home is no longer being used as a vacation rental or hosted rental.

Fill out the PJR-145 Affidavit of Cessation of Vacation Rental or Hosted Rental Use (PDF) and follow the instructions on the form for submission.


Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about vacation rental and hosted rental permitting in unincorporated Sonoma County.