News and Updates
NEW! New online complaint feature is active: Chelan County is contracting with Deckard Technologies for short-term rental monitoring through its Rentalscape service. If you have a complaint about an STR property, you can either fill out a form for Code Enforcement or you can fill out a complaint form at Complaints STR System (Deckard). Short Term Rentals now has a 24/7 hotline for answering for complaint calls; 509-293-4577 will be answered by attendant staff, then they will reach out to the local contact. If the issue is not abated within an hour, please call the hotline again so we can document a verified complaint on the STR.
Do you want know if a property in Chelan County is permitted as a short-term rental? Go to the Chelan County GIS map and follow the directions to the left.
Reminder: An owner or operator must include the Chelan County land use permit number for the short-term rental in all advertisements and ensure its prominent display on platforms and other forums for rental (AirBnB, VRBO, Craigslist, poster, etc.) and on marketing materials such as brochures and websites.
Reminder: Send in copy of your signed permit. Whether you have recently renewed or just received your new permit, your permit is not complete until you have signed it and returned a copy to us. Check your junk mail folders and get those signed permits back to us so the permit is on file and valid.
Fire & Life Safety Inspection: The Chelan County Fire Prevention & Investigation Office conducts inspections of STRs. Owners or managers will be contacted by Fire Prevention & Investigation staff to schedule an inspection. Please do not call the office to schedule an inspection unless you are returning a call from them. Inspections are being grouped together in areas for efficiency. The inspection documentation is required for all new permits. Renewals may submit the self-inspection form. Please assist in helping you pass your inspection by ensuring that all requirements are met at the time of your inspection. Remember, if you fail your fire inspection, you cannot rent until you are compliant and new permits will not be issued until the inspection is passed. You can link to the Fire Marshal's page here for further information.
If you would like to learn more about Chelan County and ways to enjoy our beautiful area, please take a look at the Visit Chelan County website and Chelan County Living: A Local Land and Resource Guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
This section is for general information only. Please refer directly to the code for guidance. There you will find details specific to your own unique situation.
Tier 1: Owner-occupied, short-term rentals where either (a) rooms are rented and the owner is personally present at the dwelling during the rental period, or (b) the short-term rental is located within the same parcel as the owner’s principal residence and the owner is personally present at the dwelling during the rental period, or (c) the entire dwelling is rented no more than 15 total days in a calendar year, provided that an on-site qualified person is there during the owner’s absence. Portions of calendar days are counted as full days. The maximum occupancy is 8 persons of any age including the owner(s) for overnight occupancy
Tier 2: Short-term rentals at a dwelling that is not owner-occupied with a maximum occupancy of 12 people, which includes children.
Tier 3: Short-term rentals that may be either not-owner occupied or owner-occupied, and have a maximum occupancy of 16, which includes children. No short-term rental may operate as a Tier 3 short-term rental without meeting all Tier 3 provisions. Read more in the new code.
An owner’s primary dwelling, or a legally established accessory dwelling unit, may be used as short-term rentals. Recreational vehicles, tents, or other temporary or mobile units will not be considered as short-term rentals.
A short-term rental operator must maintain primary liability insurance to cover the short-term rental dwelling unit in the aggregate of not less than $1 million, or conduct each short-term rental transaction through a platform that provides equal or greater primary liability insurance coverage. Liability insurance helps pay to repair another person's property or for their medical bills if the policy holder is found responsible for causing damage or injuries.
Yes. The term short-term rentals is more reflective of the industry definition and reflects that these dwellings are rented for purposes beyond vacations, including medical stays, re-locations and contract work.
If the short-term rental is a conforming rental, the permit is not transferable, even in the event of divorce or death.
If the short-term rental is non-conforming, transfer of a permit is acceptable if:
- The owner wishes to transfer the existing permitted, non-conforming status and currently issued operating permit to continue under a new owner one time within five years (three years within the Manson Urban Growth Area) of Sept. 27, 2021. The new owner may continue to operate under the existing short-term rental permit for the remainder of the current registration year and then must renew permits and operate in subsequent years under the permitting requirements applicable to the original owner -- provided that within 30 days of closing, the new owner has provided a contact name and registration information with Chelan County Community Development. The new owner must also provide signage and notification.
- A transfer occurs when the property is sold by a person or corporation to another person or corporation, or when officers of corporations are changed to remove former officers and add new officers. A transfer does not occur when officers are changed due to death, where title is held in survivorship with a spouse or a transfer on the owner’s death to benefit only a spouse or children for the lifetime of the spouse or children. The survivor may not sell or transfer title; the title may transfer among the survivors. In addition, a transfer cannot occur when, due to divorce, a former spouse’s name is removed from the deed or corporation.
No transfers of the existing non-conforming short-term rental status may occur other than as provided. The second owner of a lawful permit transferred must obtain all required short-term rental permits and meet all applicable requirements for all subsequent years beyond the current issued permit. If the property is transferred again, or is not issued a short-term rental permit in any subsequent years after initial transfer, the property loses its legal non-conforming status that would have applied to the original owner.
Please note the transfer clause does sunset (go away) after the first 5 years the code was passed (7/27/21) in the majority of Chelan County and after the first 3 years the code was passed in the Manson UGA.
Non-conforming short-term rental properties may only be changed, altered or enlarged in a manner requiring a permit issued under Chelan County codes. With the permit process, Community Development will help you determine if the changes are not allowed. In the case of a repair needed because of unexpected damage or a natural or human-caused event, the repair must return the short-term rental as it existed prior to the damage.
Any property that increases its non-conformance without written and permitted authorization of Community Development after specifying they are an STR property and need to assure they do not make their property more nonconforing may be subject to immediate revocation of all short-term rental permits and will lose any legally non-conforming status as a short-term rental.
You would be considered a Tier 1 short-term rental if the rentals you refer to are less than 30 days. In some areas of the County where short term rentals are not allowed, you may be able to operate a Bed & Breakfast; please check with STR staff to see if this pertains to you.
Land use approvals refer to any permitting required specific to your intended use.
As of Sept. 27, 2021, no short-term rental owner or operator may advertise, offer, operate, rent, or otherwise make available or allow any other person to make available for occupancy or use as a short-term rental without a valid short-term rental administrative land use permit issued by the director or a Conditional Use Permit approved by the hearing examiner. All dwelling units on a single parcel shall be reviewed concurrently in the same application, and the dwelling to be used as a short-term rental shall be clearly identified.
All uses on the property must fully comply with Chelan County code and the property may not have existing unresolved code permitting, land use or other violations to be eligible to apply for an administrative short-term rental land use permit or conditional use permit. Existing properties claiming non-conforming short-term rentals may be issued a provisional short-term rental permit and may be provided the time of their respective grace period, but no later than Dec. 31, 2022, to address all violations. No provisional or other short-term rental land use permits shall be issued after that date until any violations are resolved. The director may extend the timeframe for up to six additional months to obtain compliance upon showing of a good faith effort.
Annual renewal of the short-term rental land use permit is required:
- Community Development will by Sept. 1 of each year, mail a renewal reminder notice to the permitted owner or operator, sent to the postal address or the email address on file, reminding them of the renewal requirement.
- A permit expires annually on Dec. 31, regardless of when it was issued.
- Annual permitting fees are not pro-rated.
- Permit renewal applications for permitting year 2023 and beyond, must be received by Oct. 31 of the preceding year.
Permit renewal applications received after Dec. 31 will not be accepted, and the short-term rental must immediately cease operations on Jan. 1 of the following year. The owner and property loses any vesting to continue operating as a legally conforming or non-conforming short-term rental. Expired short-term rentals are subject to the housing cap provisions and must apply as a new short-term rental.
An exception allows the director of Community Development, upon showing of a hardship reason for an applicant’s delay, to consider accepting a permit renewal application received after Oct. 31 but before Dec. 31 of the same year. The director may assess double the normal fees for permitting, provided the short-term rental may not continue operation past Dec. 31 until the permit application is approved and a permit issued.
No. A short-term rental owner may operate only one short-term rental per parcel which is to be designated on their permit application form. The STR may be in either the primary dwelling or the accessory dwelling unit -- not both. If the short-term rental occurs in a multi-family dwelling, the same owner may not rent more than one unit in the development.
|Conditional use permit
|Short-term rental Tier 1 and 2: 2021 provisional registration
|Short-term rental Tier 3: 2021 provisional registration
|Short-term rental Tier 1: 2022 provisional, annual or renewal permit
|Short-term rental Tier 2: 2022 provisional, annual or renewal permit
|Short-term rental Tier 3 rental if CUP required (new Tier 3 first permit, includes CUP application
|Short-term rental Tier 3: second provisional, annual and renewal, and includes annual CUP renewal, if no new CUP required
|Short-term rentals of any type that did not properly register per Chelan County Code 11.88.290(2)(E) or (4)(B)
|Assessed DOUBLE application fees
|Short-term rental fire and life safety inspections by fire marshal or designee
|If an owner requests inspections with the first permit or inspections are waived by the director, the fee will be equivalent to the annual renewal
The length of time permit processign takes is unique to each parcel. If there are no unpermitted structures, no improperly permitted structures, and not other code violations, the process can go fairly quickly as long as the submitted application materials are complete.
An application must be deemed complete before a permit is issued. Any applicant who does not complete the required application forms, complete any required inspections or other processes contained within this chapter, and fully submit any required supplemental information or who within thirty calendar days of notification fails to correct any application documentation submission deficiencies as requested by the department by any required deadlines, including submitting a complete application for any required conditional use permits, or who upon application review is found to have knowingly provided false information, or if the applicant or property is found to be out of compliance with this or other titles of Chelan County land use or development codes, is therefore ineligible for a short-term rental permit. The applicant shall not receive any further processing of their application. Once denied, the applicant shall not be eligible for rental permit application until such time as the owner can show compliance with Chelan County regulations, and then must reapply to restart the process.
If you are allowing your rental to be used for events that will cause you to exceed your daytime occupancy, you will need to apply for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). Please be advised that this can be a lengthy process and if found holding events without proper permits can casue your STR permit to be revoked.
You get this through the Chelan-Douglas Health District. Please follow this link to their request page Public Records Request (wa.gov).
Please specify that you need to know the number of bedrooms your septic system is approved to support.
Note: if Chelan-Douglas Health District does not have record of your septic system it does ot mean you just don't submit anything. You would then need to work with them to be reviewed and advised as to whether your existing system will be approved. There is a cost for this process.
A "grandfathered" permit is what some people call an Existing Nonconforming permit. In order to qualify for that status you would have had to meet certain criteria and have applied before 12/31/2021. There is no allowance for someone to get that type of permit now.
There is no waitlist for a short term rental permit. Every year the application window for new permits is open from June 1 - July 31 for areas that have availlable permits. You can check on an area of interest by looking at the Short Term Rental Statistics page. When they application wondow opens, staff take applications a then date/time stamp them. They will then be processed in the order of receipt up to the cap capacity of the areas applied.
Running a short term rental is a commercial endeavor run out of (usually) a residential structure. The permit issued to an STR owner is issued to the parcel on which the rental sits and requires:
(i) Provide residential parking, not located within a setback and not within any recorded access easement, consistent with the provisions of Chapter 11.90.
(ii) The number of vehicles allowed at the short-term rental must be limited to the number required per Section 11.90.060; this requirement must be included in the property management plan per subsection (3)(K) of this section; provided, that any short-term rental may exceed these limits for hosted events if a conditional use permit has been obtained and all conditions of approval including traffic and parking requirements have been satisfied consistent with Section 11.93.315.
(iii) Unlawful or unsafe parking by short-term rental tenants and guests, owner or operator joint liability if violation not abated. Qualified persons or owner or operators of short-term rental properties notified of unlawful or unsafe complaints related to their short-term rental tenants, or their guests are responsible to promptly abate the parking complaints emanating from their property for noncompliance with subsections (3)(C)(i) and (ii) of this section, or for parking on the property of a neighbor without express permission, or blocking the access to that neighboring driveway, or preventing their unobstructed use of that neighboring property. If the owner fails to cause the parking complaint to be abated within sixty minutes of notification of the complaint, he is subject to the enforcement penalties jointly and severally with the renter, or guest creating the parking violation under this chapter and Title 16.
(iv) Repeat Violations. Two verified parking violations unabated within sixty minutes as provided in subsection (3)(C)(iii) of this section within six months on or adjacent to the same property may also be subject to additional penalties under Chapter 16.20, up to and including revocation of the short-term rental land use permits under Section 16.20.040.
If you are not permitted to operate a Short Term Rental in Chelan County but there is evidence of operation, you can undergo Code Enforcement. Per the Short Term Rental code, evidence of operation includes, but is not limited to, advertising, online calendars showing availability, guest testimony, online reviews, rental agreements, or receipts.
You will not be issued an STR permit for an incomplete structure.
Part of the STR review process is to not only go over all of the submitted documentation but also to do a complete parcel review. During the parcel review we assure that all structures on the parcel were permitted to be built, that they are being used for the permitted purpose, and that there are no other violations on the parcel. When discrepancies/violations are identified, an owner has 30 days to resolve or their STR permit application becomes ineligible. Once that happens an owner would have to start the entire application process over once their property was fully in compliance with Chelan County Codes.
If you are applying for a Tier 1 owner-occupied permit, then, no, your parcel size is not part of the review.
If you are applying for either a Tier 2 or Tier 3 permit, the lot size requirement will depend on your zoning. Once you have determined your zoning, you can refer to this chart:
Posted: 09/16/2021 11:05 AM
Last Updated: 02/28/2024 02:57 PM