Short-Term Rentals

On August 16, 2022, the City Council passed Ordinance 2446 to add short-term rentals to our residential land use table (Snohomish Municipal Code 14.207.070), allowing the City to regulate them. To comply with the new ordinance, short-term rental owners must ensure that they are:

  • Operating with a City of Snohomish business license. If you do not have one, please follow the application instructions provided in the FAQs below.
  • Paying all applicable retail and lodging taxes listed in the FAQs below.
  • Not using any commercial spaces for short-term rental.
  • Not renting to the same party for more than 30 consecutive days.
  • Only renting to a single party. A party is a group of persons gathering for the same social purpose.
  • Only renting the entire structure or a self-contained living space within a structure (such as a condo). Only one self-contained living space within a detached single-family residence shall be rented at a time.

If you have any questions about operating a short-term rental in the City of Snohomish, please contact us.


Short-Term Rental FAQs

What is a short-term (vacation) rental?

Snohomish Municipal Code (SMC) 14.25.200 defines a short-term rental as: “a furnished dwelling unit, or room within a dwelling, or an accessory dwelling unit, rented out on a daily or weekly basis. ‘Vacation rental’ means the same as ‘short-term rental.’” Examples of short-term rentals are those rented through platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo.

Ordinance 2446 recognizes short-term rentals as a land use distinct from other lodging types, such as hotels/motels, bed & breakfasts, and boarding houses. SMC 14.207.070 regulates short-term rentals. If you are unsure whether your property constitutes a short-term rental, please contact us.


Why is the City of Snohomish regulating short-term rentals?

The Snohomish City Council passed Ordinance 2446 to add short-term rentals to the City’s residential land use table (Snohomish Municipal Code 14.207.070) on the recommendation of the Snohomish Planning Commission. Staff analysis determined that short-term rentals have different neighborhood impacts than bed & breakfasts and boarding houses and should thus be regulated differently.


Where are short-term rentals allowed?

Short-term rentals are allowed in any zone where dwelling units are allowed (i.e. Single-family, all three multi-family zones, Commercial, Historic Business District, Business Park, and Midtown District zones). Short-term rentals are not allowed in commercial spaces, although they may be allowed in housing units within commercial zones.

Short-term rentals are not allowed in Industry, Airport Industry, and Parks, Open Space & Public zones.


Do I need a permit to operate a short-term rental?

The City of Snohomish does not require a specific permit for short-term rentals. You do, however, need to acquire a City of Snohomish business license.


How do I ensure compliance with the new ordinance?

  1. Obtain a Washington State business license (if you don’t already have one) and City of Snohomish business license endorsement through the Washington State Business Licensing Service
  2. Pay all applicable retail and lodging taxes as required for transient accommodations pursuant to WAC 458-20-166.
  3. Do not use commercial spaces for short-term rentals.
  4. Do not provide any services beyond housekeeping between visits.
  5. Do not rent to the same party for more than 30 consecutive days.
  6. Only rent to a single party. A party is a group of persons gathering for the same social purpose.
  7. Only rent the entire structure or a self-contained living space within a structure (such as a condo). Only one self-contained living space within a detached single-family residence shall be rented at a time.

These regulations are in place to ensure that short-term rentals are properly licensed, pay all applicable taxes, and remain distinct from other lodging types. If you are unsure whether your property constitutes a short-term rental, please contact us.


How do I obtain a City of Snohomish business license?

  1. Log into your Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR) Business Licensing Service (BLS) account or create one at: https://dor.wa.gov/ 
  2. If you already have a Washington State business license, apply for a City of Snohomish endorsement. If you do not already have a license, you may apply for a Washington State and City of Snohomish license at the same time.
  3. When applying, select the “Snohomish General Business – Resident” license type.
  4. Once Washington State has processed your application, City of Snohomish staff will review it and either activate your license or contact you with questions. You will receive a notification from DOR when your business license is activated.
    1. Please note that City of Snohomish business licenses are renewed annually and that you will receive an email notification from DOR when it is time to renew your license.

If you run into trouble during the application process, please refer to the DOR help page or contact them directly. Please note that the City of Snohomish cannot directly troubleshoot application issues as the process is managed by the State.


What type of business license do I need?

When hosting a short-term rental within City limits, you need a “Snohomish General Business – Resident” license. “Resident,” in this case, refers to the fact that your business location address is within City limits. 

Short-term rentals are not considered home occupation businesses and thus do not require a home occupation business license.


I operate short-term rentals at more than one property within the City of Snohomish. Do I need separate business licenses?

Pursuant to Snohomish Municipal Code 5.02.040, conducting business at two or more locations requires separate business licenses.

Renting separate self-contained living spaces (for example: condos) within a single dwelling unit does not require separate business licenses.


What taxes are levied on short-term rentals?

Short-term rentals are required to pay the following taxes:

  • State sales and use tax (6.5%)
  • Local sales and use tax (2.8%)
  • Special hotel/motel tax (2%)

The total tax rate for short-term rentals is 11.3%.


What is the difference between the special hotel/motel tax and the transient rental income tax?

The special hotel/motel tax (2%) is a consumer tax on lodging charges for periods of less than 30 consecutive days.

The transient rental income tax is not a standalone tax; rather, it is deducted from the state sales and use tax (6.5%) and returned to localities. This is not a consumer tax and no additional tax is paid by the lodging business that reports this information.

For full definitions and more information, please refer to the Washington State Department of Revenue’s lodging guide.


I list my short-term rental on Airbnb and/or Vrbo. Do I need to collect and remit taxes?

As of the passage of Ordinance 2446 on August 16, 2022, both Airbnb and Vrbo collect and remit taxes on short-term rentals in Washington State on behalf of hosts. If you list your rental on a different platform, please contact them to determine whether they collect and remit taxes for hosts.

If you list your rental independently, you are responsible for collecting and remitting all applicable taxes.


I still have questions and/or concerns about operating my short-term rental. Who do I contact?

Please contact Economic Development & Outreach Coordinator Brady Begin at begin@snohomishwa.gov or (360) 913-4848.