San Diego Short-Term Vacation Rental Ordinance: What You Need to Know

With its beautiful beaches and perfect weather all year round, San Diego is a popular destination for people from all over the world. This is why short-term rentals are common in the city.

As a popular tourist destination, San Diego offers many types of vacation rentals, from beachfront homes in Mission Beach to Airbnbs in La Jolla that will blow your mind. The city is a good place to be a vacation renter or a homeowner who rents out their home.

However, as you might expect, there are rules for vacation rentals in San Diego, including new rules recently approved. Here’s what you need to know about vacation rental laws in San Diego.

San Diego Vacation Rental Laws, Rules, and Regulations

Short term rental in La Jolla. Image courtesy of

Whether you’re looking to rent a property for a vacation or you’re a landlord looking to make money from your home, it’s helpful to know San Diego’s Airbnb laws before you get started.

This is especially true since recently San Diego changed the rules. You may be here because you saw a news story with a headline saying “San Diego Imposes Cap on Whole Home Short-Term Rentals.” Since the laws change, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them.

Here are the San Diego short-term rental regulations you need to know.

What is a short term rental?

In a nutshell, the City of San Diego defines short-term rentals as those lasting less than a month in most cases. There are exceptions, but whole-home rentals are short-term if a tenant only occupies the property for less than 30 days.

When it comes to single room rentals, San Diego’s short-term rental regulations can get more complicated. But, for most owners who rent out their home as something like an Airbnb, 30 days is a good rule of thumb.

Are short-term rentals allowed in San Diego County?

Short term rental in La Jolla. Image courtesy of

Yes, short term rentals are permitted in San Diego. There are, of course, rules and regulations governed by the San Diego Short-Term Rental Ordinance. But, generally, short-term rentals are allowed.

It should also be noted that many of these regulations only apply to the city of San Diego. You may find different rules in other independent cities in the county, such as Oceanside or Encinitas.

Do you need a permit for Airbnb in San Diego?

Technically, yes. Before you can become an Airbnb host or rent out your property to guests, you will need to obtain a license. We’ll cover more details later in this article, but the short answer is that you’ll have to follow San Diego’s short-term rental ordinance.

The license itself is relatively affordable, but it does require you to pay a short-term rental tax to the city, as well as business taxes.

What are the rules on shorter vacation rentals in San Diego?

Rules on short-term rentals depend on the type of rental, but here’s what you need to know about San Diego short-term rental laws.

Short Term Residential Occupancy Permit

Any person in the city who rents their property or part of their property to a guest is subject to the City of San Diego’s Short-Term Rental Ordinance. This means following Municipal Code requirements and obtaining a temporary occupancy registration certificate.

The Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate requires an application fee of $25 and a license fee of $100.

There are also four types of licenses which are issued depending on the exact circumstances.

  • Part-time licenses are for people who rent a home less than 20 days per year.
  • Home-sharing licenses are for those who rent one room or multiple rooms in a house for more than 20 days per year.
  • Whole house rental licenses are for owners who rent out an entire house more than 20 days per year.

It should be noted that in the future there will be a cap on licenses across San Diego. In Mission Beach, the cap is 30%. In the rest of the city, it’s 1%.

Short term rental in San Diego. Image courtesy of

Transitional occupancy tax

In addition to obtaining a Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate, owners who rent out their homes as vacation rentals will also be subject to taxes under San Diego’s Short-Term Rental Ordinance.

Currently, the tax rate is set at 10.50% of income. Taxes must be paid monthly and are due no later than the last day of the following month.

Business tax on rental units

This is not specifically related to San Diego County short-term rental laws, but it does apply to those who rent out their property. Basically, any business that operates in San Diego must pay business taxes to the city.

You will need to apply for a business license before operating a vacation rental in San Diego. The tax itself will be set according to your income.

Why Do These San Diego Vacation Rental Laws Exist?

Many counties across the country require licenses or permits for short-term rentals. The recent addition of new ordinances and regulations in San Diego can be seen as a reaction to the lack of affordable housing in the city, as well as complaints from current residents.

San Diego is a tourist hotspot, which means many local landlords rent out their homes. This drives up the cost of long-term housing in the city, especially during peak tourism months. Residents also complain about lack of parking, tourists throwing parties, and other issues.

So there are regulations regarding Airbnbs in San Diego, whole house rental rules, and more. to solve these problems. These rules apply to all areas of the city, from luxurious Airbnbs in San Diego to more modest accommodations in Ocean Beach.

How many short term rentals are there in San Diego?

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The number of short-term rentals in San Diego is unclear, but a March 2022 estimate indicates it could be around 12,300.

That will change when the City of San Diego’s recent ordinance capping short-term rentals goes into effect. Under the new regulations, short-term whole-home rentals will be capped at 1% of the city’s total housing stock. That’s 5,400 short-term rentals.

There are a few exceptions to this. Mission Beach – a popular tourist destination – will be capped at around 30% of housing stock. That’s about 1,100 short-term rentals in the neighborhood alone.

A total of 6,500 licenses will be available for short-term rentals throughout San Diego. This is a competitive number and well below the 12,300 rentals currently available. In the interest of fairness, the city will distribute the licenses according to a lottery system.

Another exception is the category of lodged rentals, or a person living in a house renting a room. There will be no cap on these.

The rules will come into force in 2023.

How to Apply for STRO License

As of this writing, owners who wish to apply for their STRO license in the lottery cannot yet apply. The city says it will most likely begin the application period in fall 2022; they will post updates on the official STRO page here: You can enter your email address on this page to be notified of updates, but it may be a good idea to visit this page frequently if you are an owner.

San Diego is still a great place for vacation rentals

Despite new rules and regulations coming into effect, San Diego remains a great place to rent your home or get a vacation rental for the summer.

The vacation rental market, which has been relatively unregulated until now, will become more competitive due to the new rules. However, there will undoubtedly still be a thriving vacation rental market in the city.

And even better, people looking to move to San Diego permanently might find more affordable housing than they otherwise could.

About the Author: Mike Peterson is a freelance journalist and writer based in North San Diego County. He has written and worked for a number of local media, including the San Diego Union-Tribunethe North Coast Currentand the Ocean’s Edge Blade. Additional reports by staff.

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