Converting Basement Into Short Term Rental

22 Replies

Hi BP friends,

I have been thinking about converting the basement of my primary residence in Herndon, VA into a short term rental. The plan is to add a full bathroom to the basement, and then walling it off from the main house by adding a door for privacy reasons. The basement will still have a separate access and is half a mile from an upcoming Metro stop for easy access to the airport and Washington, DC. I'm wondering if anyone here has done something similar and what you're experience has been? Thanks in advance for any insights :)

Add some restraint hooks on the wall and the bed and I think you have the perfect thing for a basement rental.

It's a bummer that Fairfax County limits this to 60 days per year. Might be worth it to still convert it to a long term rental in that case if the numbers make sense. Thanks for the heads up!

Doing this in Arlington VA since 2015 and it has been a great income source. I do have a separate entrance and kitchen that allows me privacy


If you're limited to 60 days, select your timing carefully. Summer and early fall is busiest! You may also consider just weekends in summer and fall.

Guests are usually very polite! Working professionals,  couples, and small families 

Originally posted by @Samir Patel :

It's a bummer that Fairfax County limits this to 60 days per year. Might be worth it to still convert it to a long term rental in that case if the numbers make sense. Thanks for the heads up!

 If you did you can only rent it to someone older than 55 years old or who has a disability.

Originally posted by @Fiza Petro :

@Russell Brazil I didn't realize there was a limit on the type of tenant you can rent to

 Thats specific to Fairfax County.

Each jurisdiction in the DMV has different rules regarding basement rentals/ADUs.

Originally posted by @Colleen F. :

@Russell Brazil whats the rationale on that kind of (basically)  age discrimination.  

 Fairfax county is a high income area that does not want multifamily housing in their neighborhoods. They have an exception for over 55 and the disabled is so families can take of their elderly parents and disabled family members primarily, thats the rationale.  

Originally posted by @Russell Brazil :
Originally posted by @Colleen F.:

@Russell Brazil whats the rationale on that kind of (basically)  age discrimination.  

 Fairfax county is a high income area that does not want multifamily housing in their neighborhoods. They have an exception for over 55 and the disabled is so families can take of their elderly parents and disabled family members primarily, thats the rationale.  

Dang!  Rough place!  I guess the golden rule applies: "those who have the gold make the rule".....

 

@Russell Brazil   well to take care of family members and have them pay rent you need an exception.   They could just take care of them without  any exception.   It is a way to control  who lives in you neighborhood though.  thanks for that insight.

@Russell Brazil That's super interesting, thanks for providing some insight on this! Definitely not trying to do anything illegal so will look into this more before proceeding.

Maybe you could explore short(er) term rentals, as in month to month leases, or aiming to target travel nurses? Their contracts are 13 weeks and they really only seem to need places for 3 months. Maybe interns + nurses could solve that problem?

@Samir Patel   yes,  you could only do over 55 many people that age are still working but not as nurse/interns.  Although I don't know how they define disabled I think they also won't be working as nurses/ interns.   It limits your pool.  If you target the disabled not sure if you would do a purpose built handicapped accessible where you might find a long term tenant or if your unit doesn't lend itself to that.   I would price out the cost of the reno and the expected rent and then decide. 

@Colleen F. That makes sense. I have a few contractors coming out this week to give an estimate. Will decide based on the bids and see if it still makes sense numbers wise. Thanks!

Update: it looks like Fairfax County is removing the age and disability requirement for accessory living units (previously known as accessory dwelling units). For anyone interested, here is the link to the zMOD Project with the upcoming changes (effective July 1st).

@Samir Patel that will make a big difference for you.  Watch  for public meeting if they add anything controversial. As soon as a change is proposed in our area opposition often comes out of the woodwork. You are however in a larger metropolitan so perhaps you will see a more balanced view.