Legacy short-term rental unit
A legacy short-term rental unit (“legacy unit”) is one that has been in operation since prior to September 30, 2017 by an operator who:
- can provide a rental registry showing the dates on which the unit was rented in the year prior to September 30, 2017; and
- has maintained a current City of Seattle business license tax certificate from the beginning of the registry period to the present.
“Legacy unit” status is not transferable. This means that if the owner of a legacy unit sells that unit, it is no longer a legacy unit. If the operator of a rented legacy unit ceases to operate it (see “Downtown Urban Core” below), a different operator may not take over this work because the unit is no longer a legacy unit.
Seattle’s short-term rental legislation is complex, and different provisions apply in each of three “legacy zones.” These provisions affect the number and type of units you may add to your operator license. If you operate units in more than one legacy zone, you may only claim the provisions of one of those legacy zones. (When adding units to your operator license, make sure the first unit you add is located in that legacy zone.) You will need to make this decision, in conjunction with anyone else who has an ownership interest in your properties either as an individual or as an organization member. City staff cannot provide guidance about what decision will work best for your needs.
The information in this article applies only to legacy unit operators. If the conditions above do not apply to your unit or units and to you, you are not a legacy unit operator.
- Downtown Urban Core
The Downtown Urban Core is the only area of the city in which non-owner occupants (i.e., renters) may operate legacy units. Upon the City’s request, these operators must be able to provide a unit owner’s written consent for its operation as a short-term rental unit.
An operator of legacy units in the Downtown Urban Core may operate an unlimited number of such units, including his or her primary residence.
- First Hill/Capitol Hill Urban Center
This legacy zone is the only one in which the owner of a multi-family building constructed after 2012 and containing no more than five dwelling units may operate all of them as legacy units, in addition to his or her primary unit and up to one secondary unit (i.e., up to 5 units in the building plus two more).
There are very few such buildings. If you believe that your building is in this legacy zone, please call (206) 615-0808 to speak with a customer service representative.
- Greater Seattle
Geographically, this legacy zone includes most of Seattle. The legislation allows an owner of legacy units in this area to operate up to two of them, as long as neither is the owner’s primary residence. But one year after the issuance of his or her operator license, this owner may also add his or her primary residence to that license.
For more information about legacy units please refer to FAS Short-term rental rules STR-3 License and license applications.