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Leavenworth Vacation Rental Rules

Posted by Geordie Romer on June 27, 2022

Many homebuyers buying a vacation home in Leavenworth Washington often consider renting the home as an Airbnb, VRBO or short term rental when the house is not in use. But what are the Leavenworth vacation rental rules? One of the most common questions we receive as Leavenworth real estate agents is..

Are Airbnb allowed in Leavenworth?

Airbnb are allowed in commercial areas within the city limits of Leavenworth or in unincorporated Chelan County with a valid short term rental permit. A short term rental is any rental for a period of less than 30 days and is often called a vacation rental or a nightly weekly rental.

The City of Leavenworth (and its associated Urban Growth Area) have different rules for short term rentals than Chelan County.

Within the city limits of Leavenworth, vacation rentals have long been prohibited from residential neighborhoods. This includes RL6, RL10, RL 12 zoning as well as multi-family zoning.

Leavenworth Zoning Map 2022

According to the City of Leavenworth web site:

In many cases and where allowed (located in the Commercial districts), homes which become rentals are required to perform physical alterations (such as fire sprinkler systems and parking improvements) to occur and require City licensing. The Washington State Department of Health also regulates overnight rentals. Please visit for State licensing requirements. If you have a question regarding use of a property as a rental of less than one month duration, please contact Development Services Staff at 509-548-5275.

Leavenworth Bed and Breakfast Rules

One exception to this rule is that bed and breakfasts (bnb) may be allowed if they are the primary residence of the owner and they must obtain a conditional use permit (CUP).

Vacation Rentals in Leavenworth’s Commercial Zoning

Commercial zones in the city of Leavenworth include Central Commercial, General Commercial and Tourist Commercial.

Commercially zoned areas in Leavenworth sit along or south of Highway 2, so any property north of the highway that isn’t adjacent to the highway is going to be zoned for residential use only. (Ironically, much of Commercial Street in Leavenworth is not zoned for Commercial use. The area on the west end of Commercial Street between 1st and 3rd Streets is zoned RL6 which is residential zoning.)

Many Leavenworth condominiums are located in commercial zones, but others are located in multi-family zoning. Condominiums north of Highway 2 on Whitman Street, Prospect Street, or Titus Road are zoned for multi-family use and short term rentals are prohibited.

Updating Leavenworth Vacation Rental Rules

In 2016, a group of businesses asked the Leavenworth city council and mayor to amend the Leavenworth vacation rental rules that had been poorly enforced. This was likely related to the Washington State Supreme Court Case “Wilkinson V. Chiwawa Communities Association” that ended a long legal battle concerning vacation rental rules in Chiwawa River Pines near Lake Wenatchee. The court ruled that short term rentals were allowed in Chiwawa River Pines and some interpreted this to mean that the city could not prohibit vacation rentals either.

The Leavenworth city council held a series of public meetings and heard a mix of opinions, but the overwhelming majority of citizens wanted the city to prohibit vacation rentals in neighborhoods. In 2017, the city of Leavenworth amended the municipal code regarding bed and breakfasts and short term rentals and promised to increase enforcement.

In 2021, Chelan County enacted its own regulations and permits for short term rentals located outside of the city limits of Leavenworth.



    If you’re planning to buy a home in this area, the best place to start is with the Leavenworth Home Buyer’s Guide.

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