Short-Term Residential Occupancy (STRO)
(Updated on Friday, December 1, 2023)
The STRO Ordinance requires a license for all STRO of a dwelling unit, or part thereof, for less than one month within the City of San Diego. To determine if your property is located within the City of San Diego, reference the City of San Diego Council District Map. If your dwelling unit falls within the nine (9) Council Districts on the map, the STRO Ordinance will apply. There are four (4) license types with varying requirements on the number of days and type of dwelling available for the STRO. A host may only hold one license and may not operate more than one dwelling unit for STRO at a time; licenses are not transferrable between ownership or location/dwelling unit.
A host may obtain a maximum of one license at a time in one of the following four (4) STRO license tiers:
(excluding Mission Beach)
Mission Beach Whole Home
Rented for an aggregate of 20 days or less per year
The owner or permanent resident does not need to reside onsite during the STRO
Renting a room or rooms in the home for more than 20 days per year so long as the owner or permanent resident resides onsite
The owner or permanent resident may be absent from the permanent residence during the STRO for up to 90 days per calendar year
Rentals for more than 20 days per year where the owner or permanent resident does not reside onsite. To determine your dwelling unit's Community Planning Area (CPA), reference the City of San Diego Community Plans Map.
If your dwelling unit is within the Mission Beach CPA, you would fall into Tier 4 Mission Beach Whole Home. Any other CPA would fall into Tier 3 Whole Home (excluding Mission Beach).
Note that the ordinance requires STRO utilization for a minimum of 90 days each year in order to maintain a Tier 3 or Tier 4 license.
The number of licenses issued will not exceed 1% of San Diego's total housing units outside the Mission Beach Community Planning Area*
Guest two-night minimum stay required
The number of licenses issued will not exceed 30% of the Mission Beach Community Planning Area*
Guest two-night minimum stay required
*Based on the most recent Demographic and Socioeconomic Housing estimates issued by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) rounded up to the nearest whole number.
The license application period is open for Tier 1, 2, & 3 licenses. The application period for Tier 4 is closed. Click Apply for an STRO License to create your account and submit an STRO license application. Below are some resources to help with the application process:
- OpenData Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Information
- OpenData Rental Unit Business Tax (RUBT) Information
- STRO License Application Video
- STRO License Application Guide
- STRO License Application FAQs
- Rule Promulgation - Pending Enforcement Action
Treasury Department Contact Information
Additionally, City Council has approved the following application and license fees:
|Application Fee||License Fee|
|Tier 1||$ 25||$ 100|
|Tier 2||$ 25||$ 225|
|Tier 3||$ 70||$ 1000|
|Tier 4||$ 70||$ 1000|
Note that all fees are non-refundable, and licenses expire two (2) years from the date of issuance and may be renewed in accordance with section 510.0106(d) of the Ordinance.
The following resources were developed to assist Hosts with compliance:
- STRO Host Requirements Video
- STRO Host Requirements Guide
- STRO Host Requirements Checklist
- Good Neighbor Policy
- Human Trafficking
- STRO Host Quarterly Reports - Quarterly reports are only required for Hosts with a Tier 3 or Tier 4 license. Hosts with a Tier 1 or Tier 2 license are not required to submit quarterly reports.
Hosts who fail to comply with all STRO requirements, risk enforcement actions being taken against them, up to and including civil penalties and license revocation. Please refer to the full text of the STRO Ordinance.
A Hosting Platform, as defined by the STRO Ordinance, means any person, as defined in Municipal Code section 11.0210, who provides, and collects or receives, a fee, subscription, commission, or other consideration for booking services through which a host may offer short-term residential occupancy.
SDMC Chapter 5, Article 10, Division 2 outlines the STRO requirements for Hosting Platforms. These generally include the following:
- Provide hosts with information regarding hosts responsibility under the City’s STRO Ordinance,
- Upon request, provide the City documentation demonstrating that the hosting platform provided the required information to hosts,
- Not process or complete transactions for any dwelling unit offered for STRO unless it has a valid STRO license per the City registry,
- Collect and remit transient occupancy tax (TOT) to the city (note this is only if the hosting platform collects rent from the guests),
- Provide the City various data points for all listings in the City of San Diego, on a monthly basis in a format specified by the city, and
- Maintain various records/information for each STRO transaction for a period of four (4) years and provide to the City upon request.
To assist Hosting Platforms to ensure compliance with the monthly reporting requirement, a Hosting Platform Reporting Guidelines document and Reporting Template (excel document) has been created. This reporting template is the only report format that will be accepted. Submission of reports utilizing an alternate format may be considered non-compliant.
Note that the requirement for monthly submission of reports is only applicable to the STRO requirements. The TOT requirements are separate and TOT information (rent, TOT collected, etc.) should not be included in these reports. For questions about TOT reporting, please contact TOT administration at email@example.com.
The City of San Diego Office of the City Treasurer provides this information as general guidance on the City’s Short-Term Residential Occupancy Ordinance. This information is provided as a public service and should not be construed or relied upon in any way as legal advice or a legal opinion. Although all efforts are taken to keep content timely and accurate, there may be a delay in correcting any errors brought to our attention. Please refer directly to the full text of the Ordinance.
STRO means the occupancy of a dwelling unit or part thereof for less than one month. The STRO Ordinance defines a month as a period of consecutive days from the first calendar day of occupancy in any month to the same calendar day in the next month following or the last day of the next month following if no corresponding calendar day exists. For example, a check-in on Jan. 31 and check-out on Feb. 28 would be a month stay, whereas a check-in on Feb. 1 and check-out on Feb. 28 would not be a month.
Yes, the Ordinance applies to all dwelling units used for short-term residential occupancy in the City of San Diego regardless of base zoning designation.
If your property is located in the City of San Diego and is rented out for less than one month per guest stay, you must obtain a Transient Occupancy Tax Certificate and collect and remit Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). This applies to STRO properties of any kind (i.e. houses, condos, rooms, or spaces) rented directly by the owner/operator, by property management companies or via internet travel services.
If you are renting property for less than a month at a time in the City of San Diego and do not have a TOT Certificate, you are not in compliance with the San Diego Municipal Code (SDMC); there are no exceptions.
Additionally, property owners who rent out all or a portion of their property for more than 6 days in a calendar year are responsible for remitting Rental Unit Business Tax to the City of San Diego.
Lastly, if the Host is not the owner of the dwelling unit, they are required to obtain a Business Tax Certificate and remit Business Tax annually.
For questions regarding TOT and/or Rental Unit Business Tax, please visit the following web pages:
Effective May 1, 2023 a STRO license will be required to operate a STRO within the City of San Diego.
No. The San Diego Municipal Code prohibits using ADUs for short-term rental and will result in a Code violation. Only permitted companion units built before the September 2017 prohibition may be used as an STRO.
You can host short-term rentals in the residential portion of a live/work unit or "artist live/work unit," if you are a permanent resident of that unit and both live in AND host short-term rental guests exclusively in the "live" area of the unit. Short-term residential occupancy (e.g. sleeping, lounging/resting, or cooking areas) is NOT allowed in the "work" portion of the live/work or artist live/work unit. Additionally, you may not reside in the "work" area and use the "live" area of the live/work or artist live/work unit for STRO.
No. Vehicles (including RVs and Camper Vans) and temporary structures (such as tents, sheds, tree houses, etc.) may not be used for an STRO.
Using a dwelling unit for STRO without a license on or after May 1, 2023 is a violation of the STRO ordinance and will likely result in regulatory actions. The actions may include the issuance of a Notice of Violation with an assessment of penalties. Operating an STRO without a license will jeopardize a host’s ability to obtain an STRO license in the future.
Proof of residence may be any of the following, provided that it shows the hostname and dwelling unit address as the host mailing address: mailing label from a magazine, DMV registration, payment coupon (return portion) from any of the following SDG&E, phone, cable, water and sewer bill, etc.
It is recommended you discuss with the platform(s) you use about available assistance and requirements for continued use of their websites.
STRO of 21 to 89 days per year is not allowed under the STRO Ordinance. Although whole home STRO for an aggregate total of more than 20 days per year requires a Tier 3 or Tier 4 STRO license, hosts with a Tier 3 or Tier 4 license must rent a dwelling for a minimum of 90 days each year to maintain the license. Quarterly reports demonstrating utilization must be submitted to the City and those Tier 3 or Tier 4 hosts who do not utilize the dwelling unit for a minimum of 90 days per year will be at risk at having the license revoked.
However, if the dwelling unit is the host’s primary residence that they occupy for no less than 275 days per year, than a Tier 2 license could be obtained while still allowing 70 days of whole home STRO.
11. I obtained a Tier 3 or Tier 4 license for whole home rental. Although I plan to host short term rentals in my home/dwelling unit for more than 90 days per year, what happens if I am unable to book at least 90 days due to circumstances outside of my control (cancellations, etc.)?
The STRO Ordinance requires all hosts with a Tier 3 or Tier 4 license to use the license a minimum of 90 days each year during the term of the license and submit quarterly reports to the City Manager containing the number of days the dwelling unit, or any portion thereof, was used for short-term residential occupancy to demonstrate utilization. The ordinance does not include any exceptions to this requirement. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in license revocation.
Reporting STRO Violations
Citizens can report a potential violations of the STRO ordinance through Get It Done.
Citizens can submit complaints for licensing and operating violations specified in the STRO ordinance.
Operating Violations are incidents related to an occurance at an appropriately licensed rental. In Get It Done, residents can report the following operating issues:
- STRO Notice not visable or legible
- Excessive trash in private property
- Local contact not responding within one (1) hour of the complaint
- Local contact responded within one (1) hour but did not actively discourage or prevent the nuisance activity.
- Business operations at STRO (massage, surfing classes, wedding venue, etc.)
Other operating violations can still be reported as "Other".
Licensing violations are incidents related to the host's license itself. In Get It Done, residents can report the following licensing issues:
- Unathorized / No STRO license
- Non-compliant structure used for STRO (ADUs, JADUs, Companion Unit, Guest Quarters, etc.)
Other Licensing violations can still be reported as "Other". Please note that license requirements vary based on the tier of the license the host obtained.
When experiencing an issue that is considered a "public nuisance", such as a noise complaint, please follow these steps:
- Notify the local contact of the STRO. The local contact information should be posted on the host signage on the exterior of the dwelling unit. This information can also be found in the Active STRO Licenses OpenData portal or the Active STRO License Map.
If the local contact does not reply within one (1) hour (or the reply is insufficient) then:
- Report the issue on Get It Done.
- Report the issue to the SDPD non-emergency line at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154.
A "public nuisance" is defined by California Civil Code Section 3479 as any condition caused, maintained or permitted to exist which constitutes a threat to the public's health, safety and welfare or which significantly obstructs, injures or interferes with the reasonable or free use of a property in a neighborhood, community or to any considerable number of persons.
License Tier Scenarios
Home share means the short-term residential occupancy occurs in either the host’s primary residence or a separate dwelling unit on the same premises as the host’s primary residence. This may include duplex, triplex, or quadplex properties as well as eligible accessory dwelling units when the host resides on-site.
Whole home means short-term residential occupancy of the host’s entire dwelling unit while the host is not physically present and residing in the dwelling unit.
If you are the permanent resident, reside onsite and are absent for 90 days or less per calendar year, you would apply for a Tier 2 license.
Yes. If you are renting the room(s) for more than 20 days per year and are the permanent resident that is absent no more than 90 days per calendar year, you would obtain a Tier 2 license for the dwelling unit.
Tier 3 (outside Mission Beach) or Tier 4 (within Mission Beach) license depending on where your property is located, as the host does not reside onsite for at least 275 days per calendar year.
If the college student met the requirements of a host, the college student could apply as the host. In this case, a Tier 2 license would apply if the college student resided onsite at least 275 days per year. With a Tier 2 license, the STRO could be rented as a whole home STRO for up to 90 days per calendar year when the host does not reside onsite.
If the host was planning on operating an STRO for 20 days or less per year, a Tier 1 license would be applicable. A host does not need to reside onsite with a Tier 1 license.
The license application period is open for Tier 1, 2, & 3 licenses. The application period for Tier 4 is closed. Apply for an STRO license to create your account and submit an STRO license application. It is recommended for citizens to sign up to receive STRO updates by entering your email address in the "Receive Email Updates" section on the top right side of this page.
A host is defined as a natural person with the legal right to occupy the dwelling unit and allow short-term residential occupancy. A host may include the owner or a lessee if the lease allows for subleasing for less than one month. A host may only hold one license at a time, and a host may not operate more than one dwelling unit for STRO at a time within the City of San Diego. If a Host is not the owner of the dwelling unit, they are required to obtain a Business Tax Certificate and remit Business Tax annually.
Yes, if a Host is not the owner of the dwelling unit, they are requirement to obtain a Business Tax Certificate and pay the annual Business Tax. A Host can apply for a Business Tax Certificate online at Business Tax Online Registration and Account Update. For additional information, please visit the Business Tax website or contact the Business Tax Compliance at firstname.lastname@example.org or (619) 615-1539. Please note that this is in addition to the Rental Unit Business Tax that the owner of the dwelling unit is responsible for remitting annually.
All hosts must have a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) certificate, be in current compliance with the City’s TOT requirements (i.e., not owing back taxes for unpaid TOT) and Rental Unit Business Tax must be up to date for the dwelling unit. Additionally, if the Host is not the owner of the dwelling unit, they are required to obtain a Business Tax Certificate and remit Business Tax annually.
License applications will not be processed for dwelling units with pending enforcement actions issued by the City for violations of any provision of the San Diego Municipal Code. See Regulation Defining a Pending Enforcement Action.
There is no cost to obtain a TOT Certificate. Please visit the TOT webpage for additional information about TOT compliance.
6. The Operator's name on my TOT Certificate is an LLC; however, per the STRO Ordinance, a Host cannot be an LLC. Do I need to change the Operator name on my TOT Certificate to match the hostname on my STRO application/license? If the names differ, how will I receive priority points for TOT payments I have remitted in the past?
No; Operator has a different definition than a Host. For purposes of TOT, an Operator is defined as the Person who is the proprietor of the Hotel, Recreational Vehicle Park, or Campground, whether in the capacity of owner, lessee, sublessee, mortgagee in possession, licensee, or any other capacity. “Operator” includes a managing agent, a resident manager, or a resident agent, of any type or character other than an employee without management responsibility. (SDMC §35.0102).
For purposes of STRO, a Host is defined as a natural person with the legal right to occupy the dwelling unit and allow short-term residential occupancy. (SDMC §510.0102) A Host and Operator may be the same but are not required to be under the TOT or STRO requirements.
Under the TOT requirements, an Operator is required to maintain their records; this includes records of TOT remittance to the City. During the STRO license application process, Hosts/applicants will be required to upload these records to support the issuance of priority points for TOT past payments – only the Operator would have these records. Additionally, all Hosts/applicants will be required to certify under penalty of perjury that the information included in their STRO license application is accurate.
Rental Unit Business Tax comprises a base fee and a per unit fee. The total Rental Unit Business Tax for your property depends on the number of units. View the Rental Unit Business Tax Fees Table.
The annual fee for the Business Tax Certificate is based on the number of employees:
- $34.00 for a business with twelve (12) employees or fewer.
- $125.00 plus $5.00 per employee for a business with thirteen (13) employees or more.
Additional information on the rates and fees can be found here: Business Tax Rates and Fees.
No, a host may only hold one license at a time and may not operate more than one dwelling unit for short-term residential occupancy at a time within the City of San Diego. A host is defined as a natural person who has the legal right to occupy the dwelling unit and to allow short-term residential occupancy. A host could be the property owner or a lessee with the legal right to occupy the dwelling unit and allow subleasing for less than a month. Each dwelling unit used as an STRO requires its own license and its own host.
The property manager can be designated the local contact who shall be responsible for actively discouraging and preventing any nuisance activity at the premises. The local contact shall respond to a complainant in person or by telephone within one hour for all reported complaints and shall take action to resolve the matter.
No. One license will not be sufficient for all owned properties operated as an STRO. An STRO license is required for each dwelling unit used for short-term residential occupancy. If an owner has multiple dwelling units used as STROs, the owner will need to designate a lessee as a host who has the legal right to occupy the dwelling unit and to allow subleasing for less than a month. This lessee will have to apply to be the host of an STRO. The owner can be the designated local contact who shall be responsible for actively discouraging and preventing any nuisance activity at the premises. The local contact shall respond to a complainant in person or by telephone within one hour for all reported complaints and shall take action to resolve the matter.
Application and License fees were approved by the San Diego City Council in Oct. 2021 and are as follows:
|Application Fee||License Fee|
Note that all fees are non-refundable.
STRO licenses expire two (2) years from the date of issuance and may be renewed in accordance with section 510.0106(d) of the Ordinance.
A host can only hold one license at a time. However, if a Tier 4 host is not selected in the lottery, they can reapply for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 license pending their business model changes and meets the requirements of the tier that they are applying for. A new application will need to be submitted, including payment of the Tier 1 or Tier 2 application and license fees. The Tier 4 application fee is non-refundable.
At this time, we are no longer accepting applications for STRO Tier 4 licenses. The number of Tier 4 licenses are limited and currently, there is a waitlist. Once the waitlist has been exhausted, the STRO webpage will be updated with information regarding accepting Tier 4 applications.
Host Operating Requirements
Hosts are required to maintain proof of completing a human trafficking awareness course. Unless requested as part of a compliance review, you do not need to provide the certificate of completion to the City.
Per the STRO Ordinance, Hosts are required to post or provide to guests the following documents:
- A notice that includes the TOT certificate number, STRO license number, contact information and telephone number for the host or local contact and for the City of San Diego Code Enforcement Division. The notice must be maintained in good condition and posted on the exterior of the dwelling unit in a location visible from the sidewalk or public right-of-way. The notice must be 8.5 x 11 inches and must be in all caps, black bold 20-piint font.
Note that Hosts received a notice that can be used via eamil at the time they received their license. In addition, Hosts can access a fillable Host Signage template.
- Guidance for guests to report human trafficking must be posted in a conspicuous location within the dwelling unit. Signage for Hosts to post can be found here.
- Good Neighbor Policy that advises all guest various information regarding requirements during their stay. A fillable Good Neighbor Policy can be found here.
No; STRO licenses are not transferrable. If the Host is no longer applicable, you should contact the STRO Administration program to cancel the license and the new Host must apply for the STRO license. Application and license fees are not refundable.