Community Development

Short-Term Rentals


What is a Short-Term Rental?

A short-term rental, often called an STR, is a legally permitted, residential dwelling rented out on a nightly basis for less than 30 days or nights to individual guests. It can be a whole home, just part of it or an accessory dwelling unit (ADU).


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.



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. If an owner conducts short-term rental transactions through a platform that claims to provide equal or greater primary liability insurance coverage, the recommendation would be to review that offer of 'insurance' with an insurance professional or an attorney to be sure it meets the criteria for what you need.  Liability insurance helps pay to repair another person's (your renter or guests) property or for their medical bills if the policy holder is found responsible for causing damage or injuries.

If the short-term rental was permitted as an Existing Non-conforming, transfer of a permit is allowable one time only IF:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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 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.

Posted: 09/16/2021 11:05 AM
Last Updated: 04/17/2024 08:20 AM

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