Short Term Rentals

What Is a Short Term Rental?

A Short Term Rental is defined in the City of Wichita Unified Zoning Code as “the use of a residential Dwelling Unit or structure to provide rooms for temporary lodging or lodging and meals for Transient Guests for a period of 28 days or less for which compensation is paid to the Owner or Responsible Party. The dwelling or structure may be Owner or manager occupied.” These include transient lodging offered through AirBnB, Vrbo and other online platforms.  

Background

With the advent of systems to offer and rent Short Term Rentals, Wichita has seen a significant increase in the number of Short Term Rentals operating in the City. According to information from Granicus, the number of unique Short Term Rental units in Wichita increased from 337 units in April of 2021 to 442 units in February of 2022.

Current Wichita Policy & Regulations on Short Term Rentals

On September 12, 2023, the Wichita City Council approved changes to provide a zoning approval process for short term rentals in residential districts and a licensing program. As a result, Short Term Rentals are required to receive approvals in the ways listed below.  

  1. Per the Unified Zoning Code (amended on September 22, 2023), the property must have the appropriate zoning approvals for the property to be used for short term rentals.

Per the City of Wichita Municipal Code, short term rental owners are required to obtain an annual license for each dwelling unit that they operate as a short term rental. 

Zoning

Short Term Rentals are regulated by the Unified Zoning Code. The Unified Zoning Code does not specifically identify or define Short Term Rental as a land use. However, the Unified Zoning Code does include a number of definitions that regulate where and how long dwelling units can be leased in the City. Based on the Unified Zoning Code, there are generally three options for how a Short Term Rental can be legally operated in the City. Short Term Rentals are not permitted in the unincorporated Sedgwick County.

  • If the owner or a manager is residing at the location, then the short-term rental is allowed by right in the following common residential districts (they are also allowed in other districts, please consult the Unified Zoning Code for additional information):

Administrative Permit 

The Unified Zoning Code allows property owners to apply for an Administrative Permit to allow a Short Term Rental in the City as a use on the property. To apply for an Administrative Permit, please contact the Planning Department. You can also access the online application by clicking HERE.

Note: an annual license is required for short term rentals to legally operate in the City of Wichita (information below) .  

License Required

The City of Wichita requires Short Term Rental owners to acquire an annual license. A Short-Term Rental License expires one (1) year after the date of issuance and is not transferable to another person or location. A License may be revoked by the City Council at the recommendation of the Zoning Administrator.

To obtain a Short-Term Rental License, please contact the City’s Express Office in the Finance Department.

    https://www.wichita.gov/Licenses

Short Term Rental owners must acquire a license by the following dates.

    If the Short Term Rental is owner occupied, then the unit must be licensed by March 12, 2024. This date is six (6) months after the effective date of the ordinance – September 12, 2023. 

    If the Short Term Rental requires additional zoning approval, then the unit must be licensed by September 12, 2024. This date is twelve (12) months from the effective date of the ordinance – September 12, 2023.


Enforcement

Oversight

1.  Monitoring and enforcement of Short Term Rentals is generally led and coordinated by the Planning Department, Zoning Enforcement Division. Reports or complaints can be submitted in a variety of formats (i.e. email, phone, or online using the MABCD portal). The Zoning Enforcement Division generally operates 8 am – 5pm Monday through Friday, unless enforcement actions are specifically scheduled for a different time. 

2. Depending on the severity and the timing of the issue, complaints/issues can also be made to the Police Department. The Police Department can disperse individuals and issue citations as needed. Depending on the issue, other departments – including the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department or Fire Department could be contacted. 

Inspections

1.    Upon the filing of a complaint with the Zoning Administrator, Short-Term Rental Units shall be inspected by members of the Inspection Team. The Inspection Team shall perform the inspection in compliance with applicable city codes for the purpose of verifying that the premises are in compliance with the City’s housing, fire, building, zoning, and all other applicable City Codes.

2.    Following such inspections, if Code violations are found to exist, the Inspection Team must perform a re-inspection of the premises. No license shall be re-issued until the re-inspection is completed and any violations remedied.


Other Communities

Planning Department staff reviewed 25 cities in Kansas and neighboring states to see if and how they regulate Short Term Rentals (STR). This information can be used to help collect public input about the state of the practice, lessons learned and what some options are for Wichita. Cities evaluated included Lawrence, KS, Manhattan, KS, Springfield, MO, Oklahoma City, OK, Des Moines, IA and Albuquerque, NM.

Of the communities reviewed, 16 communities had regulations, while nine communities surveyed either have no regulations or are reviewing their options at this time. The number of requirements placed on Short Term Rentals varied significantly by community. The following is a graphic that illustrates the number of requirements.

Short Term Rental Regulation Occurence

Common policies covered occupancy restrictions, zoning regulations, length of time a Short Term Rental could be rented based upon if the property was owner-occupied or not. Some communities required neighborhood notification up to 500 feet from the rental property; while others required a public meeting coordinated by the property owner. In some cases, nearby property owners had to agree that the property could be used for short term rental. Most cities required a license and/or permit for the business to operate. Some communities allowed the business to transfer with the property, while others did not.

Regulation Changes 2023

On September 12, 2023, the Wichita City Council approved the following regulatory changes (the changes went into effect on September 22, 2023):

  • updates to the Unified Zoning Code; and 
  • creation of a short term rental licensing program.  

On November 15, 2023, the Sedgwick County Commission approved the following regulatory changes:

  1. updates to the Unified Zoning Code

These changes were in response to public comments and requests and following public conversations discussing possible options. 

On September 12, 2023, the City Council also deferred consideration of creating new section of the Wichita Municipal Code to address nuisance party houses. The City Council deferred the item until the City Council meeting on December 12, 2023. 

Events

You can learn more about the community discussion and review process. Below is a listing of events related to short term rentals.

Past Events

  • On April 21, 2021, the City hosted a virtual meeting for Crown Heights Neighborhood residents and stakeholders to discuss existing regulations for short-term rentals in Wichita.
  • On February 8, 2022, the City hosted a virtual meeting for Crown Heights Neighborhood residents and stakeholders to review potential option for regulatory changes related to short-term rentals. The feedback and questions from the meeting were used to help identify preferred options that could best meet community needs. The feedback received about short-term rentals and the ability to operate them in Wichita was diverse. There was general support for short-term rentals operating with the owner present. Responses for short-term rentals operating without the owner present ranged from don't allow, to require a Conditional Use or other opportunity for neighbor input. In general, there appeared to be overall support for licensing. Participants provided a wide range of thoughts on what amount of fees would be appropriate. Multiple participants expressed concerns about the impact that short-term rentals would have on quality of life. Multiple participants also indicated that enforcement is important and had questions about how enforcement is done by the City.
  • On October 25, 2022, the City Council received a presentation on potential regulation changes and licensing during the City Council workshop.
  • On November 3, 2022, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (MAPC) Advance Plans Committee received a presentation on potential regulation changes and licensing.
  • On December 5, 2023, DAB I received a presentation on short-term rentals and potential regulation changes.
  • On December 7, 2023, DAB III received a presentation on short-term rentals and potential regulation changes.
  • On January 4th, 2023, DAB V received a presentation on short-term rentals and potential regulation changes.
  • On January 9th, 20232, DAB VI received a presentation on short-term rentals and potential regulation changes.
  • On February 6th, 2023, DAB IV received a presentation on short-term rentals and potential regulation changes.
  • On February 14, 2023, the Realtors of South Central Kanas received a presentation on short term rentals and potential regulation changes.
  • On March 9, 2023, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission - Advance Plans Committee endorsed the proposed public licensing agreements. 
  • On March 23, 2023, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission voted to set a public hearing for April 13, 2023 o consider to proposed amendments to the Unified Zoning Code and changes to the Wichita Municipal Code.
  • On April 13, 2023, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Planning Commission received a presentation on proposed regulation changes related to short term rentals in Wichita and held a public hearing. Multiple members of the public provided comments. The Planning Commission voted to defer the item so that the MAPC Advance Plans Committee can consider the proposed regulation changes at their May 11, 2023 meeting.
  • On May 11, 2023, the MAPC Advance Plans Committee received a presentation on the proposed short term rentals regulatory changes and voted to recommend the following:
    • That the full MAPC initiate an amendment to the Unified Zoning Code
    • Approve the zoning code amendments as presented
    • Endorse the Municipal Code changes - including the short term rental license program and party house ordinance and
    • That the MAPC approve the proposed amendments to MAPC Policy Number 20. The vote was 4-0. No members of the public spoke on this item.
  • On May 11, 2023, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission received a presentation on the proposed short term rental regulatory changes and voted (7-5) to:
    • Initiate an amendment to the Unified Zoning Code per Unified Zoning Code Article V.C.2.
    • Approve the proposed Unified Zoning Code amendments
    • Recommend that the governing bodies adopt the proposed Unified Zoning Code amendments
    • Amend MAPC Policy 20 and
    • Recommend that the City Council approve the proposed Municipal Code changes. Multiple members of the public commented on this item some in support and some with concerns.
  • On September 12, 2023, the Wichita City Council approved the following regulatory changes (the changes went into effect on September 22, 2023):

    a.    updates to the Unified Zoning Code; and
    b.    creation of a short term rental licensing program.  

    In addition, the City Council also considered the creation of a new section of the Wichita Municipal Code to address nuisance party houses. The City Council deferred the item until the City Council meeting on December 12, 2023.  

  • On November 15, 2023, the Sedgwick County Commission approved the following regulatory changes:
    b.    updates to the Unified Zoning Code

Public Input

You can provide input and share your thoughts about what changes (if any) the City should put in place regarding short-term rentals. Below are some ways to share your thoughts. Submit comments via emailing Planning or submit a letter to the Planning Department at the following address:
Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Department
(Attn: Mary Hunt)
271 W 3rd Street, Suite 201
Wichita, KS 67202

Regulation & Policy Change Documents