Local zoning requires i reside on premises

i’m buying a property to renovate outside the olympic national forest in hoquiam, washington. while speaking with a code inspector, he stated i had to actually reside in any house i’m renting out. i plan to follow up with him on the issue but i was wondering if this has happened to other people? i hope to own several property’s in time rented tourists visiting the area but would not be able to do so under our current code.

Howdy in Hoquiam! I spent a summer that one year,working as a Technical Writer for Lamb! Nice area.

The “must live in the house you’re renting” legislation is a growing trend in city/county governments especially designed to prohibit people from buying up and renting out multiple properties – what I call the “slum landlord” syndrome. One owner living in the same house s/he is renting out space in was the original concept of AirBnb, but a lot of people are going overboard and never seeing/meeting/interacting with even a small percentage of their guests, which is NOT what AirBnB is all about. The feeling is that these people are buying up and removing from the market far too many dwellings/apartments. Bigger cities are clamping down HARD on violators. Chances are that that “must live in” code is never going to go away


I agree with KenH. However, it’s important to check with local municipalities to learn all the details of the local code. For example, we have the “must live in” law where I live (Asheville, NC), but at the moment, that’s only a requirement if you live in a residential neighborhood in the city limits. So here, a buyer could run a short term rental in a commercial zone or any zone where lodging is permitted, or a buyer could have a legal unit just outside the city district.

Because of changing laws and other marketplace variables, I agree with recommendations you often
see on this forum from other hosts: Never buy without a backup plan. If the investment still works for you if it’s converted to a long-term rental, then that’s great!

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Hi Jonathon,

As others have mentioned you need to check with the local government (typically zoning or planning department). The code guy may know the rules but he/she is not the person to rely upon. You can do this on line most likely. So go to the town/township web site and look up the zoning ordinance. Find out what zone classification is for the location of the house you are considering to purchase. It may be residential, commercial, agricultural, or some other designation. Then look up permitted uses for that zone. So in the township where I live in Michigan, in a residential zone, you are not permitted to rent your house out for less than 30 days, thus a limitation for short term whole house rentals. Where I specifically live, in an agricultural zone there is no such restriction. If you town does not have this on the web just go into the government office and ask for the zoning or planning department and ask them. These people are generally most friendly and want to serve the public. It is not intimidating at all. Have them show you the pertinent regulations in the ordinance. Let us know what you find out. Good luck, Curt

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Just looked up zoning for Hoquiam, Washington and see nothing exempting short term rentals in both of the residential zones R1 and R2. In fact they even allow a true Bed and Breakfast. But still you need to talk to them as I took a very quick look. Is there a chance this property is not in the town but may be in a separate legal jurisdiction like a township? Regards, Curt

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perhaps it’s been a while since you lived in the area but i’d estimate at least one house in ten is empty locally and has been since 07. the hedge funds that bought up all available housing stock across the sun belt after the crash didn’t invest here because the economy is so bad.

i’m guessing the senecio you reference is happening in most other economy’s. if this region is lucky, it will recover in 10 to 20 years. in the mean time, empty houses are literally melting back into the ground for lack of basic maintenance. its endemic.

i don’t think the residency requirement we have is there to keep speculators away. this area is hurting and bad and has been for years. we are however, the last stop before you get to some of the most beautiful woods in north america. the potential for tourism is there if we can get a few things sorted out.

thank you curtpete and everyone for your response. i agree of course about following up with local leaders but thought asking this community for input would be helpful. i am new to the area and unused to dealing proactively with local government on issues such as this.

curious at the zoning. i know i’m zoned for business/residential use, but ignorant beyond that.

the good news i suppose is, being such a small economy, the people in charge seem to have time to help a person through the process. the gentleman i spoke with yesterday was very helpful. but point taken that there may be more involved than he is aware of too. but it’s a place to start.

i stumbled across the issue yesterday asking questions for a permit to open an attic with
dormers. thanks again for the generous input.

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Hi Johnathan,

Here are the zoning map and ordinances to your town:


http://www.ghcog.org/zoning/HoquiamZoning_Jan2012.pdf (zoning map)

Suggest from the map determine what zone you are in, for example R1, R2, C1 or C2. Then the ordinances tell you uses allowed and not allowed within your zone. Again as a first quick check I see nothing limiting short term rentals for any of the zones. What did the administrator say? Seem like from your description that the town citizens and government would be encouraging tourism. Good luck. Curt

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