Vacation Rental Owners Rules and Regulations

October 10, 20220

Vacation Rental Owners please watch to get the latest on information on the new compliance requirements for your San Juan Island Vacation Rental. Personal property will now be taxed! You’ll need to submit an inventory this year before 12/31/22 to stay compliant for active permit holders.

Hi, in today’s video we’re going to be discussing San Juan County Washington’s transient rental situation I’m going to explain the history of it and also this new compliance aspect of it and another feature they’ve just added which needs to be complied with before December 31st which is a little bit painful for all you owners of vacation rentals here in the San Juan Islands.

So stay tuned:

I’m Jane Carhart I’m a realtor here in the San Juan Islands with exp Realty. On this channel, I plan to explore all kinds everything that you can imagine that has to do with buying selling investing in real estate here in the islands. We will let you know everything about permitting if you’re building, installing septic systems, or drilling water wells. If you’re interested in investing short-term rentals I am an Airbnb host and I have a short-term rental permit myself. I know all the ins and outs of the permitting, and anything that you want to explore. Please send me in the comments what if you’ve got questions and I’m happy to answer those in the next video.

For now let’s get on with this video thanks for watching.

Now I’d like to get into San Juan County Washington’s vacation rental permit history. Back in 1997, the first vacation rental or transient rental permits began here in San Juan County. I received mine in 2017. at that time, I went to a permit planner and had him help me. it was a bit of a laborious process. Permit applicants had to notify people within 300 feet of your where you live. There’s quite a few people for me because I live in the town of Eastsound. Once through the permitting process , basically you got a permit. It was very a little bit lengthy expensive but you got your permit. That was it! The permits run with the land like in easement, however in 2018 the county did an update. The county  decided they wanted to have all vacation rental holders become what they call compliant. The process was to go on the SJC website fill out a form make sure you meet certain requirements and you are considered compliant. A few years later,  we had an election here in the county and new County commissioners got voted in. Their electoral platform consisted of capping or eliminating vacation rentals. These candidates felt that short term rentals was detrimental to our Island life, culture and infrastructure. That’s what happened and since then there’s been this genesis, first a moratorium on all vacation rentals and now the new reg’s in place as of June 1st 2022. the new regs are that each island and the outer islands are capped at a certain level of our amount of vacation rental permits.  San Juan Island is capped at 337 permits, Orcas is capped at 211 permits, Lopez is capped at 135 permits and the outer Islands combined are capped at 10 total as for the permits. SJI has 337 permits and I think that was the amount of total permits they had and they decided to keep the amount allowed there. On Orcas, we had a total as of July 2021 366 compliant permits yet the county capped us at 211. What that means is through attrition or expiration or people removing the permit from their property,  until we go below 211 their will never be issued another vacation rental permit on Orcas Island. Lopez Island has 135 allowable permits and they are under that number. Lopez felt they had room to expand vacation rentals so they are allowing more currently until they hit that 135 number. The outside Islands, I believe there’s eight possibly total permits now and they’re only going to allow 10 total. There are certain Islands, such as Waldron and Shaw that have no commercial activity on them so they’ll never have a vacation rental permits.

New Compliance Requirements

The next thing we need to touch on is compliance aspect which I’d mentioned how you had to do it every year.  Permit holders are required to log on to the County website and fill out a little form and you’re good to go for the year. However, they are now going to include personal property taxation. Now you need to submit to the county in a spreadsheet all items included in your vacation rental. I will give you some examples, furniture, fixtures, sofas, chairs, beds, storage, dining, computers monitors, phone systems, cookware, dining ware, small appliances, large appliances, artwork, window coverings, outdoor furniture, barbecues, hot tubs, games, garden art, linens, safety items and cleaning equipment all that needs to be inventoried and reported by December 31, 2022.  This is a big deal. I have clients that own three vacation rental properties so they’ve got to do this for each property, all I’m saying is it’s going to be painful for some people.

I am sorry about that as we’ve seen this throughout the United States. I just read an article last night in “Wired” about Sedona, Arizona and the issues they’re having with vacation rentals. Whether, this is right or wrong are vacation rentals taking away from long-term rental housing here in the San Juan Islands? I personally don’t believe that the types of homes that are vacation rentals would be good long term rentals. Due to them being very very expensive to rent on a monthly basis. I really believe that as a homeowner and you own a second home why not be able to make some money on it while you’re not using it, and still be able to use it when you want. When you have a long-term rental you’re never allowed to use the property. I understand why people have short-term rentals so they can enjoy their homes when not occupied. I am not here to say what is right or wrong on this issue. I am here to help you navigate the situation figure out if this is what’s best for you.

I’m not sure if the SJ County really realized that due to these permits running with the land homes that have them, do sell at a premium over the house next door same floor plan that does not have a permit. I did recently sell a home that had a vacation rental permit. A house a couple doors down came on the market, with same floor plan and sold for a lot less money than this property with the str permit. Having a  vacation rental permit, is like having a gold mine. A vacation rental property here in the San Juan Islands especially on Orcas where we don’t have a lot of hotels is important for our island visitors. There’s not a lot of options for people to come and stay if they want to enjoy the island. We do have the State Park which is wonderful but in wintertime people don’t want to camp. So, we just don’t have a lot of options on our Island for guest accommodations. Owning vacation rentals is something that has become very very popular here. I hope I’ve answered all your questions. I’d love to hear in the comments anything or any insights you’d like to share with me I’m happy to discuss please feel free to call me anytime I am Jane Carhart

307-413-8961 and I look forward to hearing from you have a wonderful day bye

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Jane Carhart, EXP Realty Broker
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Eastsound, WA
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