Seattle, Washington Short Term Rental Regulations

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Reviewed by Karolyn Hutson

Last updated August 23, 2023

Seattle Short-Term Rental Regulations

Information is maintained by the community to provide helpful insights and links to local regulations, HostScouts does not provide legal or investment advice.

City Code of Ordinances

Seattle defines a short-term rental as lodging where a home, or part of a home, is rented for a fee for fewer than 30 consecutive nights. Examples of short-term rentals are rented through platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO.
  • Short-term rentals are not allowed in RVs, tents, garages, boats, and other spaces that are not considered dwelling units, floating on-water residences, waterfront residences, and other areas where lodging activities are prohibited by the Shoreline Code Dwellings in commercial or industrial buildings permitted as "Caretaker's quarters," and Live-work units.
  • No more than eight people may occupy a dwelling unit (with some exceptions).
  • Most short-term rental operators may operate two units: the operator's primary residence and a secondary unit, one in which the operator does not live.
See the Seattle Short-Term Rentals page for more information. 

Business License Requirements

If you operate short-term rentals (STRs) in Seattle, you need a regulatory license for STRs and a business license tax certificate.

The majority of short-term rental business owners may manage two properties: their primary residence and a secondary property where they don't reside. The primary unit could be an "in-law" apartment integrated into a larger housing unit, an auxiliary dwelling unit (ADU or DADU) or both. Rentable spaces without private bathrooms and kitchens do not count as an operator's two units and are exempt from additional license requirements. They are covered by an STR operator's primary or secondary residential license.

See the following requirements if applicable:No tenant should host any property as a short-term rental unless their listing qualifies as a legacy unit.

Building and Housing Standards

Seattle has rules and regulations that specify minimum building, design, maintenance standards, habitability, health, and safety requirements. Some rules and regulations that apply to residential and non-residential properties may apply to your listing. Consult the Seattle Building and Construction Code and contact the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections for more information.

Tourist and Local Taxes

All rentals in Seattle are subject to a short-term rental tax. Platforms (such as Airbnb or Vrbo) collect and remit state and local taxes to the State of Washington on guests' behalf. The guest pays for the state and local taxes. Contact the Department of Revenue's website for more information regarding Washington state requirements for short-term rentals.

Other Rules

It is also essential to understand and abide by other contracts or rules that bind you, such as leases, condo boards, co-op rules, HOA rules, or rules established by tenant organizations. Please read your lease agreement and check with your landlord if applicable. Visit the Seattle website for more information.
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  • Short Term City Rating
  • Competition

  • Real Estate Cost

  • STR Regulations

  • Seasonality

  • Rental Rates


Seattle, Washington Quick Stats

Short-term rentals have gained a lot of traction in the last few years. The trends and statistics of this sector are constantly changing, and having access to accurate data is essential for making sound investment decisions.

STR License Required
Tourist Season
King County International Airport (BFI)
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
Review our Seattle Washington short-term rental analytics guide, including rates, property types and other metrics

Want to learn more about Seattle?

Hostscouts has you covered. Our guides for this city cover topics that can help you research cities across the US quickly and easily.

Check out our Seattle rental analytics guide if you're interested in data on the Seattle rental market.

City Activities

Review the popular activities that hosts include in their property positing in Seattle.

City Attractions

The most popular local and regional landmarks hosts usually include in their Airbnb or Vrbo property listings.

Seattle Rental Rates & Fees

Explore nightly rates that hosts list their properties and the average fees for pets and additional guests.

Property Types & Sizes

What are the most popular property sizes for rent? Research whether a 1, 2, or 3 bedroom best fits Seattle guests.

Interested in other Washington cities?

Check out the Washington short term rental regulations directory 

What makes Seattle a great place to invest?

  • Iconic Landmarks: Seattle is home to the famous Space Needle, a 605-foot tall observation tower offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city, Puget Sound, and the surrounding mountains. Don't miss the chance to explore Pike Place Market, a bustling and historic public market known for its fresh produce, artisan crafts, and the original Starbucks store.
  • Cultural Delights: Immerse yourself in Seattle's thriving arts scene by visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass, showcasing the mesmerizing work of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. Attend a live performance at the historic Paramount Theatre or explore the rich history of rock 'n' roll, science fiction, and pop culture at the Museum of Pop Culture.
  • Academic Excellence: The University of Washington, a top-ranked public research university, is nestled in Seattle's beautiful and expansive campus. Visitors can stroll through the picturesque grounds, explore the Henry Art Gallery, or attend a Huskies game at Husky Stadium.
  • Outdoor Adventures: Seattle's stunning natural surroundings provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities. Take a scenic hike at Discovery Park, kayak on Lake Union, or embark on a whale-watching tour in Puget Sound. The nearby Mount Rainier National Park is perfect for a day trip to marvel at the majestic peak and explore its lush forests.
  • Parks and Green Spaces: Seattle is known as the Emerald City for its abundance of green spaces. Relax at the serene Japanese Garden within the Washington Park Arboretum, enjoy the stunning views from Kerry Park, or explore the Gas Works Park, featuring fascinating industrial structures and stunning skyline vistas.
  • Culinary Experiences: Foodies will adore Seattle's diverse dining scene, from fresh seafood at iconic waterfront restaurants to innovative eateries showcasing the region's farm-to-table movement. Make sure to indulge in local specialties like clam chowder, artisanal coffee, and craft beer from the city's many microbreweries.

Seattle Nearby Cities

Local Real Estate

How expensive is the real estate in Seattle?

The cost of real estate can vary widely depending on the location, size, and features of the property, as well as market conditions. The median home value in Seattle has decreased -7% over the past year, and the average price per square foot is $568, which is higher than the national average.

Median Sale Price


-7% YoY

Median per Square Foot


-7% YoY

Average Monthly Rent


1% YoY

Property Descriptions

The most common terms hosts include in their listings for Seattle, Washington

Word Cloud for Seattle, Washington Short Term Rentals

Common terms for Seattle short term rental listings.

When potential guests are scrolling through listings on Airbnb, they’re looking for certain essential information to help them decide if your property is the right fit for their needs. As a host, ensuring that your listing includes all the relevant information that guests will be looking for is vital.

Some of the must-have elements of a property description include:

  • Location: Guests will want to know where your property is located in relation to popular attractions, public transportation, and other points of interest.
  • Amenities: What amenities does your property offer? Be sure to list all features guests can access, such as a pool, hot tub, parking, etc.
  • Informative: The average listing in Seattle has a description approximately 1,785 words long. Make sure yours is long enough to describe your property but doesn't require your potential guest to read a novel.

After reviewing more than 8,102 listings in Seattle, we've consolidated the most common terms on the word cloud. The larger text represents a term that is used more often. The top ten mentioned terms are Seattle, NumberSTR OPLI, Quiet, Block, Comfortable, Downtown Seattle, Downtown, City, Easy, and Car.

What are the most popular tourist activities in Seattle?

Whether renting a house, an apartment, or a room, you should include popular tourist activities in your posting. The most common choices mentioned on property listings in Seattle involve going to the City Centre, Museums, Boating, Cycling, and Hiking. When you write your listing, have a section with recommended activities near the property to give your guests an idea of what is available.

City Centre








Health Spa


Adventure Activities


Local Attractions

What attractions do hosts highlight to guests?

There are quite a few popular attractions in Seattle, including Pike Place Market, Space Needle, Seattle Waterfront, T-Mobile Park, and Lumen Field. Below we've included the most popular local and regional landmarks hosts usually include in their Airbnb or Vrbo property listings. Many hosts like to show off lesser-known regional landmarks visitors might not have heard of.

Well Known Attraction

Pike Place Market

Included on 58% of listings

Well Known Attraction

Seattle Waterfront

Included on 58% of listings

Well Known Attraction

Washington State Convention Center

Included on 58% of listings

Regional Landmark

Seattle Great Wheel

Included on 58% of listings

Well Known Attraction

Lumen Field

Included on 58% of listings

Well Known Attraction

Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66

Included on 58% of listings

Well Known Attraction

Seattle Center

Included on 57% of listings

Regional Landmark

Amazon Corporate Headquarters

Included on 57% of listings

Well Known Attraction

T-Mobile Park

Included on 57% of listings

Well Known Attraction

Space Needle

Included on 57% of listings

Regional Landmark

Alki Beach

Included on 55% of listings

Regional Landmark

Pioneer Square

Included on 53% of listings

What’s the weather like in Seattle, Washington?

The weather is generally milder than the national average, with an average high temperature of around 61°, while the average low is about 47°. The rainfall is much heavier, averaging about 44 inches per year, compared to the national average of about 27 inches. Snowfall is relatively rare, averaging less than 3 inches per year. The humidity levels in Seattle are generally lower than the national average, and the city tends to be a bit cloudy for most of the year.


December through February

38° Low 49° High

Muggy Days
0.0 days


March through May

46° Low 60° High

Muggy Days
0.0 days


June through August

57° Low 75° High

Muggy Days
0.0 days


September through November

48° Low 61° High

Muggy Days
0.0 days