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Vacation Rental Permit

Vacation rentals are the rental of a private residence for periods of 30 days or less. 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). Vacation rentals must have a Certified Vacation Property Manager and meet Performance Standards to ensure compatibility with surrounding residential uses.

Coastal Zone: The Vacation Rentals Ordinance has not been adopted for the Sonoma coast (e.g. Sea Ranch, Bodega Bay) and is not applicable to rentals in those communities. However, the owners of Coastal Zone vacation rentals must register to pay Transient Occupancy Tax.

Vacation Rentals vs. Hosted Rentals

Find out which situation applies to your property.


Where are Vacation Rentals Allowed?

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

  • In homes in single-family residential zoning districts (AR, RR, and R1)
  • In existing single-family residences in the LC zoning district
  • Agricultural and resource zones including LEA, DA, and RRD (except for lands within an Agricultural Preserve that is subject to a Land Conservation Act (Williamson Act) Contract)

Vacation rentals are not allowed in the following locations:

  • Higher-density residential districts (R2, R3, PC)
  • 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
  • Non-habitable structures
  • Areas designated (e.g. the Exclusion (X) Combining District)
  • Areas within the burn zones of the 2017 Sonoma Complex Fire and the 2019 Kincade Fire 

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

Permit Type Required

A Zoning Permit or Use Permit is required for all vacation rentals. Vacation rentals with up to five (5) guest rooms require a Zoning Permit. Vacation rentals with five (5) or fewer guest rooms do not require a Building Permit for change of occupancy, but still require a Zoning Permit from Permit Sonoma (PRMD) and compliance with all Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) registration and payment requirements. Vacation rentals with six (6) or more guest rooms require a Use Permit.

Apply for a Vacation Rental Permit

Vacation Rental Permit Application Package

The following must be submitted in person. They are not accepted by mail.

  1. Vacation Rental Zoning Permit Fee (as of July 5, 2017 through June 30, 2018):
    Up to $849.00 (includes the first year Annual Monitoring Fee (prorated by quarter) and the Tech Enhancement Fee)
  2. Certified Property Manager Requirement
    All new vacation rental permits are required to provide the 24 hour contact information of a property manager who has already passed the property manager certification exam and paid the fee.
  3. Vacation Rental Application Forms
    All forms listed must be completed prior to bringing to the Permit Sonoma office.

Additional Vacation Rental Permit Fees

(as of July 5, 2017 through June 30, 2018)

  • Annual Monitoring Fee: $216.00
    Recurring fee paid by the vacation rental owner per property
  • Property Manager Certification: $65.00
    One-time fee paid by the Property Manager when obtaining certification from Permit Sonoma
  • Noticing Fee: $85.00
    Paid by the vacation rental owner when changing the Property Manager for a vacation rental property (for notifying neighbors of the change)

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 to not 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 Affidavit of Cessation of Vacation Rental or Hosted Rental Use (PDF: 158 kB) and follow the instructions on the form for submission.

Contact Information

Business Hours
Monday – Friday
10:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Contact us by Phone
Permit Sonoma
2550 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.465074, -122.723705

More Resources

Sonoma County Transient Occupancy Tax
Information and Forms

Permit History Lookup
Find out if an address has a Vacation Rental Permit, and find out the Property Manager's 24/7 phone number.

Zoning Information
Find out your property's zoning or if the Williamson Act Land Contract applies.