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Mayor and Council to Consider Regulations for Short-Term Residential Rentals, Residential Room Rentals, Accessory Apartments and Accessory Dwelling Units

The Mayor and Council will consider whether to initiate the public review process for several changes to the city code and zoning ordinance at upcoming meetings in January.

On Jan. 9, the Mayor and Council will determine whether to initiate a review process for proposed code changes to implement regulations for short-term residential rentals, as well as regulate the rental of rooms within a residence. The intent of the code changes are to clarify when short-term rentals, typically booked through services such as AirBnB and VRBO, are permitted. Proposed conditions include limitations on the number of days per year that a unit may be rented, as well as limitations on the amount of rental unit guests.

Should the regulations be adopted, landlords would be required to register units with the city and be subject to the city’s hotel tax.

An accessory apartment added to existing house
An accessory apartment added to existing house.

The city’s zoning ordinance allows up to two people to occupy a dwelling in addition to the resident family. This has been interpreted to permit up to two rooms to be rented to individuals that are not family members.

At present, there are no requirements related to safety inspections or for such rentals being subject to the city’s landlord-tenant ordinance. The proposed regulations would require that rental of rooms be licensed and subject to regular inspection, as the rental of residences are currently.   

On Jan. 23, the Mayor and Council will consider whether to initiate a public review process to change city code and the zoning ordinance related to accessory apartments and accessory dwelling units, or ADUs.

Accessory apartments are small dwelling units either located within or attached to a single-family detached residence, subject to certain criteria.

Current code allows such dwellings through approval of a special exception by the Board of Appeals, which can be a lengthy process. Proposed code changes would allow such dwelling units to be approved by staff, subject to compliance with certain criteria, thereby reducing processing time.

A free-standing accessory dwelling unit
A free-standing accessory dwelling unit.

ADUs, defined as small dwellings within a detached accessory structure on a single-family lot, are not currently permitted in the city. The proposed code changes would allow approval of ADUs by staff, subject to certain criteria, as a conditional use. If approved, such units would be subject to the same inspection requirements as other rental units in the city.

If the Mayor and Council authorize the amendments, they will be presented to the Planning Commission for a recommendation. The Mayor and Council will hold public hearings on the amendments prior to making a decision on each.

Draft versions of the city code and zoning ordinance amendments will be available as part of the Mayor and Council agenda packets for the Jan. 9 and 23 meetings, when posted, at www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter.

For more information, contact Jim Wasilak, zoning administrator, at 240-314-8211 or by email at jwasilak@rockvillemd.gov.  

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