What are the Differences between Vacation and Residential Property Management in Sonoma County? - Article Banner

With sites like Airbnb and HomeAway more popular than ever, a lot of homeowners in Healdsburg and throughout Wine Country are renting their homes out as vacation properties, with short-term renters staying for one night, a week, or even a month. 

There are a few major differences between vacation property management and residential property management in Sonoma County. It’s important that you understand the laws and the requirements before you transition into vacation rentals. 

Here’s an overview of what you need to know, and how a management company can help.

Defining Vacation Rentals vs. Long Term Residential Management

Vacation Rental Laws

The laws and even the definitions of vacation rentals can be tricky for homeowners, especially in Sonoma County. The most important thing to understand is that you need a permit to rent out a vacation home in Healdsburg, Windsor, Cloverdale, and throughout Sonoma County. 

Vacation rentals are considered private homes that are rented for periods of 30 days or less. When we talk about vacation rental properties, we’re not talking about traditional bed-and-breakfast establishments or inns and hotels that are found throughout Wine Country. 

Sonoma County requires that you register your vacation rental home and obtain a permit. You’ll be subject to the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) as well. 

Vacation rentals are also required to be managed by a Certified Vacation Property Manager. Your Sonoma County property manager will have to ensure your property complies with specific performance standards that satisfy compatibility measures in the neighborhood and community. 

The exception? Sonoma County’s coastal zone. These laws do not apply to cities along the Sonoma coast, including Sea Ranch and Bodega Bay. However, the TOT is required to be paid by owners in that region.

Managing a Vacation Property

Property ManagerWhether your property is in Healdsburg, Windsor, Cloverdale, or Santa Rosa, you’ll need a Certified Vacation Property Manager which is likely someone different from a property manager who helps owners rent out long term residential properties. Some management companies may have different divisions that oversee each type of property, but make sure you’re working with the right professional before you rent out a vacation property. 

Vacation property managers will need to do things differently than long term residential managers, including:

  • Constant marketing and booking in order to keep your property occupied
  • Extra cleaning, especially when guests are checking out and checking in on the same day
  • Inspecting furniture, appliances, linens, and supplies
  • Managing deposits, payments, refunds, and contracts 
  • Soliciting reviews and feedback from guests to attract new visitors

Sonoma County property managers who specialize in long term residential leases will have their own set of skills and unique talents. There are different laws, expectations, and tenant pools in the short term market versus in the long term market. Make sure you’re working with the right management company for the best possible results. 

At Healdsburg Property Management, we manage single-family homes, duplexes, four-plexes and multi-unit properties of up to seven units throughout Sonoma County’s Wine Country, including Healdsburg, Windsor, Northern Santa Rosa, Cloverdale and Forestville. We’ve effectively managed both long term rental homes and short term vacation homes. We’re certified to help you in renting out your vacation listing, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you have. Please contact us to learn more and to talk about your property.