Updated Guidelines on Zoning Permits and Licenses Required for Short-Term Rentals and Hosts in Philadelphia | Commerce Department

The City of Philadelphia updated the section of the code that regulates short-term rentals, including those listed on lodging platforms such as AirBnB, VRBO, Homeaway and more. These changes are based on Invoice No. 210081 which further defines the uses for all short term rentals.

To operate a short-term rental, the operator must obtain the necessary permits and zoning licenses. This rule was established in 2015. Information about these zoning permits and licenses is included below in this announcement.

In accordance with these regulations, online platforms will require hosts to confirm that their rentals are licensed. This means that platforms require hosts to provide their limited accommodation license number or rental license (for hotel use) for their listing(s). Non-compliant ads may be removed from the platform.

Online platforms initially had a deadline to confirm that all rentals with hosts are permitted by July 1, 2022. The City recognizes that many short-term rental hosts will need more time to acquire zoning and license in order to avoid being removed from the platforms. Therefore, the City extends until January 1, 2023 the deadline for online platforms to collect valid permit numbers.

This delay does not remove the legal obligation to obtain a license for short-term rentals. This simply extends the time frame within which platforms must collect a valid license number from hosts.

Overview: Permit and Zoning License

Online accommodation platforms will require hosts to provide a valid license number for their listing(s) by January 1, 2023. Failure to provide a license number may result in the listing being removed by the platforms until the license number is provided.

Short-term rental property uses have two classifications:

  • Limited lodging (if unit is host’s primary residence)
  • Visitor accommodation (if the unit is not the main residence of the host)

The necessary zoning permit (Limited Accommodation or Visitor Accommodation) must be obtained before apply for a license. Please see step 1 for zoning permit and step 3 for license application details.

  • Recommendation: Have a zoning permit or waiver in hand no later than December 1, 2022. This will allow sufficient time for processing, permit retrieval, and obtaining the appropriate license.
  • Hosts must obtain the number of their Limited Hosting Operator License Where rental license (for hotel use) no later than December 31, 2022, as instructed by the booking agent.

Please refer to Short Term Rental/Limited Lodging FAQs (under the “General” section) of the Department of Licensing and Inspections (L&I) for application details and licensing requirements.

Step-by-Step Guide: Permit and Zoning License

If you are currently a host and have not yet applied for a zoning permit or license:

Step 1. Apply for a zoning permit

  • A zoning/use permit (Limited Lodging or Visitor Lodging) is required to offer a unit for rent as a short term rental for any duration.
  • Hosts can request a zoning/use permit online using eclipse or in person at the municipal services building. You need one appointment if you are considering applying in person.
  • If the unit is the host’s primary residence, use will be permitted as limited lodging (with District 10 exceptions)*. A user permit (which requires proper proof of residency) can be issued within 3 working days.
  • If the unit is not the host’s primary residence, it will be classified as visitor accommodation. These types of short term rentals will only be permitted if the property is located within the zoning districts: CMX-3, CMX-4, CMX-5, CA-1, CA-2, RMX-1, RMX-2.
  • To note: Limited accommodation and visitor accommodation may be prohibited if the property is in certain overlays. Please review all applicable overlay restrictions in the code and refer to the Zoning Summary Generator.

* In Councilmanic 10th District, a principal resident must also be the owner of the property to obtain this license. In all other Councilmanic districts, you may qualify for this license if you rent your home.

Step 2. Call the Zoning Adjustment Board (ZBA)if necessary

    • Whether L&I denies application for zoning/use registration because use is not permitted, applicants have 30 days to appeal to the ZBA. The ZBA, in a public hearing, will decide whether to grant a special waiver or exception.
    • To obtain a waiver or special exception, first apply for zoning permit.
    • When the zoning permit is refused, call decision.
    • Carefully follow the instructions the ZBA provides for filing an appeal and preparing for a hearing. To be aware:
      • Read the instructions to see if applicants will need a lawyer present at the hearing.
      • Applicants are required to appear at a public meeting of a Registered Community Organization (RCO) prior to the hearing.
  • Candidates are encouraged to speed up the call ($750 expedited fee per property) to be heard as soon as possible.

Step 3. Complete the Limited Accommodation Operator License or Rental License Application

  • A Limited Hosting Operator License Where rental license (for hotel use) is required to offer a unit for rent as a short term rental for any duration.
  • Hosts can request a Limited Hosting Operator License Where rental license (for hotel) online using eclipse or in person at the municipal services building. You need one appointment if you are considering applying in person.
    • If a Limited Lodging Zoning Permit is required, the person offering the unit for rent must also obtain a Limited Lodging Operator License.
    • If a zoning permit for visitor accommodation is required, a rental license (for hotel use) must also be obtained for the property.
  • Before obtaining the license, make sure you have:

Other requirements to know


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