Friday, September 22, 2023

Grant County short-term rental rules to get more clarification

Staff Writer | July 18, 2023 6:02 PM

EPHRATA — Some changes to clarify rules governing short-term rentals in unincorporated areas of Grant County are being prepared for consideration by the Grant County Commissioners.

“They are in the process,” said Jim Cook, deputy director for Development Services.

Short-term rentals are defined as dwellings available for rent for less than 30 days, Cook said. Matt Hope, chief appraiser for the Grant County Assessor’s Office, said that while county officials don’t know how many short-term rentals are in Grant County, there are more than there were 10 years ago.

“We have seen a huge influx,” Hope said.

The rise in popularity of single-family and sometimes multi-family dwellings being converted to vacation rentals has contributed to that trend, Hope said.

The changes proposed to the county’s existing short-term rental regulations are designed to clarify where they can and can’t be located, Cook said.

They aren’t allowed in areas zoned for light industrial or heavy industrial uses, he said. He cited Wheeler Road near the Moses Lake city limits as an example. There aren’t houses next to those businesses, and no one would expect there to be houses there, he said.

Short-term rentals are allowed in other unincorporated areas, but only with a conditional use permit. Cook said the conditional use process allows county officials to ensure the buildings meet safety regulations.

“They need to comply with the law, especially the fire, life and safety aspect,” he said.

A visitor isn’t familiar with the surroundings when checking into a hotel or motel, so the managers provide information about safety regulations, like an escape route in case of a fire.

While a short-term rental might be a house or duplex, it’s also a place that the renters aren’t familiar with, and they too need to know how to get out if there’s a fire or other emergency. The expectation of the renter is that someone has already thought about those safety considerations, like escape routes or putting fire extinguishers where they’re needed.

“Those residences need to be treated exactly the same as a hotel room,” he said.

Hope said a short-term rental is a business, and because of that owners are asked to designate what is and is not their personal property when it comes to an appraisal of the premises.

Cook said there are a number of short-term rentals in some unincorporated areas around the county.

“We’ve had a lot of successful applications down in Sunland,” he said, due to its location near the Gorge Amphitheatre. County officials have seen a higher number of applications in Desert Aire as well, he said.

Cheryl Schweizer may be reached via email at

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