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Short Term Rental Program

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Short-term residential rentals are rentals of all or a portion of a home for periods of less than 30 nights, and are often advertised on websites such as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway.

The City of Novato Municipal Code currently does not allow short term rentals unless a special use permit has been approved under the zoning definitions “Rooming and Boarding Houses” or “Bed and Breakfast Inn (B&B)”. A Rooming and Boarding House is defined in Municipal Code Section 19.60.020 as “the renting of individual rooms within a dwelling to two or more unrelated people, whether or not meals are provided.” A Bed and Breakfast Inn is defined as “residential structures with one family in permanent residence with up to five bedrooms rented for overnight lodging, where meals may be provided subject to applicable Health Department regulations.” Both of these designations require the property owner to live on site.


At the City Council meeting of January 28, 2020, the City Council voted to pursue a short-term rental regulatory program in the City of Novato.

Short-term rentals can increase transient occupancy taxes (TOT) revenue a City receives, offer those burdened with high housing costs a way to increase their income, help retirees ‘age in place,’ and help attract visitors to the City of Novato, which can boost local business and sales tax revenue. Short-term rentals can also result in adverse effects, such as impacts on permanent housing supply through their conversion to tourist and transient uses and potential nuisance issues of parking and noise.

Regulatory programs can help minimize some of these effects, and can ensure that the City is receiving appropriate TOT revenue.  The scope of such programs could include potential issues including:

  • Limits on frequency, duration and type of occupancy (i.e., whole house or partial rentals and/or owner occupancy requirements)
  • Parking requirements
  • Property registration processes and fees
  • Property inspections
  • Signage and enforcement procedures
  • Permit revocation parameters.

Help shape the City’s short-term rental regulatory program by weighing-in on which policy decisions are important to you.  Take the online survey now on Open Novato.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Short-Term Rental?
Are Short-Term Rentals Allowed in Novato?
How can I provide input on Novato's Short Term Rental Program?
How can I be notified of updates?

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