Property Information FAQ
I need to talk to a planner. May I schedule an appointment to meet with a planner?
Meet one-on-one with a Washoe County Planner by phone, virtually or in-person. Schedule an appointment online. You may contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 328-6100.
What is a regulatory zone?
Regulatory zone is a tool to divide land into sections (ie. blocks, lots, or areas) that indicate the type of use (activity) that may occur on the land, the type of development and the intensity of development. The intent of the tool is to shape the community look, feel, and use while considering community public safety, quality of life, functionality, and economic development.
What type of regulatory zones are in unincorporated Washoe County?
There are 18 types of regulatory zones within unincorporated Washoe County that designate the use (activity) allowed within residential, commercial, industrial and tourist areas and the intensity of development within those areas.
- Low Density Rural (LDR)
- Medium Density Rural (MDR)
- High Density Rural (HDR)
- Low Density Suburban (LDS)
- Medium Density Suburban (MDS)
- High Density Suburban (HDS)
- Low Density Urban (LDU)
- Medium Density Urban (MDU)
- High Density Urban (HDU)
- General Commercial (GC)
- Neighborhood Commercial/Office (NC)
- Tourist Commercial (TC)
- Industrial (I)
- Public Facilities (PCP)
- Parks and Recreation (PR)
- Open Space (OS)
- General Rural (GR)
- General Rural Agricultural (GRA)
How do I measure setbacks?
Setbacks are measured from the property line to the structure.
Please note that there are exceptions if there is an access easement (private or public greater than 20 ft) or a public road. Please contact Washoe County planning for additional support.
May I legally have horses (chickens, fowl, livestock) on my property?
Animals, for personal pets, including horses, chickens, fowl may be kept on private property within unincorporated Washoe County depending on zoning and the size of the property.
- Poultry and rabbits are allowed on rural and low and medium density suburban regulatory zones with lot sizes greater than 12,000 square feet (.28 acres).
- Livestock: Cows, pigs, sheep, goats and horses (or mutations thereof) are permitted in all rural zones, and low and medium density suburban regulatory zones with lot sizes (21,780) square feet or (.5 acres) or greater.
How many horses (chickens, fowl) may I have on my property?
The number of poultry and rabbits for private use are not limited by Washoe County Code; however, animal cruelty and solid waste management will need to be kept in mind.
Please keep in mind that Washoe County is dedicated to public safety and prevention of animal cruelty. Proper family animals must adhere to waste removal regulations, proper keeping, and animal cruelty measures in Health, County, and State regulations.
- Washoe County Code Chapter 55
- Washoe Health District – Solid Waste Management
- Nevada Revised Statutes 574
I would like to build an accessory structure (e.g. shed, patio cover). What are my setbacks?
- Cornices, canopies, chimneys, eaves, or similar feature maybe extended into the front, side and back yard setbacks no more than 2 feet.
- Decks less than eighteen inches in height from the finished grade are not counted as a structure for front yard setback purposes or side yard setback purposes and may extend to the property line.
- Outside stairs that are not covered may extend into the side yard no more than 3 feet and back yard no more than 5 ft.
- Accessory structures that are an average of 12 feet in height or less may be located within the side yard and rear yard (except for guest buildings (detached accessory dwelling units) which cannot be within the side yard setback) if they are more than 5 feet from the property line.
- Detached garages and accessory structures must be behind the front yard setback except for decks less than 18 inches above grade.
Please note accessory structures cannot be inhabited. Typical uses are storage building, sheds, barns and detached garages.
Setbacks from the property line to a structure on a property is determined by the property zoning. In general, front and side yard setbacks are determined by the property zoning and range between 30 and 15 feet for front yard, 50 and 5 feet for side yard, and 30 and 10 for rear yard. For lots on a corner, all corners are considered front yards.
What is allowed on my property?
The type of use or activity allowed on a property based on current zoning is readily available within Washoe County Code, Table of Uses starting on page 302-2. There are multiple tables of interest to property owners and real estate/development professionals. Please take the time to review the tables to see the variety of development opportunities for your property by right, with an internal administrative review or with a public review process.
For example, Table 110.302.05.1 outlines the ability to have a detached accessory dwelling on properties with low density, medium density, or high-density rural zoning with an administrative review. An administrative review is an internal review process to ensure minimum standards are met with development.
Do I need a permit to get a fence?Residential fences that do not exceed thirty (30) inches in height within the front yard setback or six (6) feet in height outside of the front yard setback do not require a building permit. Fences in the front yard setback over 4 ½ feet in height or less (to 30 inches) require a Building permit. A six foot fence is not allowed within the front yard setback. Additionally, if the fence is required for screening or as a swimming pool barrier a permit is required. Please remember to consider setbacks and access easements when building a private fence.
Can I legally camp on my property?
Please contact our Planner of the Day for additional information on temporary camping on private property at email@example.com.
Temporary use of private property for personal camping and recreation in unincorporated Washoe County is permitted without the addition of non-permitted infrastructure or buildings (effluent (ie. installing a bathroom facility or kitchen, using an accessory structure as a dwelling (shed), permanent shade over 10 feet tall and/or greater than 200 square/ft); and there is no discharge of litter, sewage, or effluent. Temporary camping is for nonpaying guests or relatives within Residential, general rural, parks and recreation and open space zones. Temporary camping is limited to 14 consecutive days. A self-contained travel trailer or recreational vehicle may be used.
*Please note, if you are considering a self-contained travel trailer to care for the infirmed, there are additional time frames and options available through the administrative review process. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional support.
What are the rules for a detached structure on my property?
Regulations for a detached accessory structure are outlined in Washoe County Code Section 110.306.10 (page 306-1). If the detached structure is larger than the residence an Administrative Permit is required.
Can I have an accessory dwelling unit(ADU)/guest house/mother-in-law unit legally in this zone?
Accessory dwelling units (guest house, mother-in-law, tiny home) are allowed within residential areas in unincorporated Washoe County with an administrative review. Residential zoning areas include low density rural, medium density rural, high density rural, and low density suburban. An application and process for an administrative review is available online.
They are also allowed within medium density suburban zoning upon approval of a special use permit.
Please contact Washoe County Planning for additional information on the submission process, review process and payments. You may email email@example.com or contact (775) 328-6100.
How many cows may I have on my property?
For properties less than an ¾ an acre - the number of livestock is limited by the size of the parcel.
- Parcels between 21,780 square feet (.5 acres) and 35,000 square feet (just over 3/4 acre), two adult livestock may be kept on the property.
- For parcels 35,000 square feet or more (just over ¾ of an acre), there is no restriction on the number of animals kept for private/personal pet use.
Can I live in an RV on my property?
"Recreational vehicle" means a vehicular structure (it has wheels) and is licensed by DMV. The vechicle is primarily designed as temporary living quarters for travel, recreation, and camping uses. A recreational vehicle can be self-propelled, mounted on, or towed by a separate vehicle. RV’s may be used temporarily as living quarters during construction of a permanent structure. The timeframe is limited to 18 months with a possible extension to 37 months with the original date of issuance of a building permit. An active (issued) building permit is required (Washoe County Code, Section 110.310.35).
May I put a manufactured home on my property in unincorporated Washoe County?
Manufactured homes are allowed on all residential properties (properties with residential zoning) as a primary structure. Typically the manufactured house needs to be 1,200 SF or more and 6 years or newer.
Manufactured homes may be allowed as a secondary dwelling (called detached accessory dwelling) in low density suburban, medium density suburban, high density suburban, and low density suburban regulatory zones with an approved administrative review provided the size of the Manufactured Home is 50% or less of the size of the main dwelling on the property and does not exceed a maximum of 1,500 square feet. Please note that secondary dwellings are required to be smaller than the primary dwelling and have size restrictions based on the lot size. Please see Washoe County Code Section 110.306.10.
Manufactured homes require inspections and/or building permits to ensure that the structure meets minimum public safety standards. Inspections and permitting are a shared responsibility between unincorporated Washoe County, the State of Nevada, and, within Sun Valley, the General Improvement District. Please visit the Washoe County Building site for more information related to your specific installation.
How do I apply for a planning application? What are the fees?
Planning applications and instructions are centrally located on the Washoe County CSD Planning webpage. Please note that there are various checklists and information contained within the application.
Applications may be submitted on the 8th of each month (or following business day if the 8th is not a working day). The submission days are noted on the “intake calendar”. Applications are submitted in person at the Washoe County Community Services Department – Planning Division, 1001 E. 9th Street, Building A.
Application fees are determined by the type of application submitted. The fee list is available online and most fees may be paid online at OneNv.us or in person by check or credit card.
May I get feedback prior to submitting an application or permit?
Washoe County has two types of reviews for development projects. The first is a pre-application. The second is a predevelopment meeting.
For projects that are being conceptualized but are not concrete enough for a full review, a pre-application meeting is available with our planning team to discuss the use, the type of project and ideas or considerations for development. To participate, please complete the application online
For projects that have had a pre-application meeting or are more concrete (have a site plan) a pre-development meeting is available. A pre-development meeting includes a cross representation of regional agencies that review the project and provide common strategies, pitfalls, and references to avoid prior to submission.
Visit us online to learn more and to participate in a predevelopment meeting.
Please note: prior to submission, many development projects require a neighborhood meeting. Additional information is available on the neighborhood meeting website.
How do I find out if there are any violations on a property?
Violations on a property are noted in a centralized database publicly visible through OneNv.us.
What is the process for obtaining documents that are part of the public record?Washoe County Community Services Department Planning is responsible for the public review process with the Planning Commission and the Board of Adjustment. The agendas, staff reports, applications and minutes are posted on the respective board meeting page accessible to the public. In addition, both live stream and meeting on demand videos are available.
For other public documents, please submit an online request for service for public document to Washoe311. You may also call 311 at 3.1.1. or 775.328.2003.
Can my structure(s) be rebuilt if destroyed?
Structures may be rebuilt if destroyed according to current adopted building code. Please visit www.washoecounty.us/building for additional information. If the structure is non-conforming (i.e. does not meet current requirements) and is destroyed a building permit needs to be acquired within six (6) months of the damaging event.
May I rent my house on a nightly basis?
In unincorporated Washoe County, private residences may be rented nightly in their entirety or a portion of the home for less than 28 days at a time (as in air bnb or similar tool) with a Short-Term Rental permit. Short Term Rental Permits and require application, approval, inspections, and annual renewals. The intent is to protect public safety by ensuring compliance with minimum codes (ie. emergency exits operating, fire alarms, access etc.).
What are the setbacks for my residential property?In general, front and side yard setbacks are determined by the property zoning and range between 30 and 15 feet for front yard, 50 and 5 feet for side yard, and 30 and 10 for rear yard. For lots on a corner, all corners are considered front yards. There are exceptions for some properties in subdivisions with specific setbacks
What are the sign requirements for my property?Private property sign requirements are outlined in Washoe County Code 110.505. Signs that are under two (2) square feet in size and posted to warn against trespassing, security or dangerous conditions are not subject to sign requirements. Election signs are limited by time frames (first day of filing to ten days after the general election).
May I subdivide my property?
Subdividing properties is allowable in certain areas within unincorporated Washoe County based on the regulatory zoning, size, location, and the plan for community development within the area. Land that is sub-divided will be recorded with either a final map, parcel map or a division of land into large parcels. New parcels must meet minimum design standards. Washoe County Code of interest when considering subdividing is listed below.
- Lot Standards (Article 404, Washoe County Code Chapter 110)
- Subdivision Regulations
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information or schedule an appointment online.
What is the allowable TRPA coverage for my parcel?The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency regulates coverage for properties within the Lake Tahoe Basin. Please visit www.trpa.org for additional information or to speak with a TRPA planner.
How do I find out if there are any violations on a property?
Violations on a property are noted in a centralized database publicly visible through OneNv.us.
Does a violation remain if a property is sold?
A property violation remains open with the property if the violation still exists at the time of sale. In such circumstances, the new owner becomes responsible for correcting the violation and any new Penalty Notices (i.e. fines) issued as a result of the continued violation. If a code enforcement lien has been recorded against a property you are considering buying, or have already purchased, please contact code enforcement at 775-320-6106 to discuss. The lien can only be removed by the code enforcement program after confirming the violation has been corrected.
How can I find out what’s being built on a property? Or proposed?
All construction permits are included on a centralized platform for Washoe County and partners OneNV.us. There are multiple ways to review construction permits issued for a project.
OneNv.US: On the online platform, please use the “Building Tab”, select Washoe for the agency and building permit for the record type. Complete the form specific to the area of concern.
Washoe County Search Tool: At www.washoecounty.gov use the search tool bar to find the property. Enter the address and the search function will pull up address details including permits.
If you have any questions about active permits, please submit a request to Washoe311 at (775) 328-2003 or submit a service request online.
Does the County have an online GIS map available for the public to access?
Yes. Property information including ownership, jurisdiction, land use, land zoning, water services, fire services and more are located on the Washoe Regional Mapping System: Washoe Regional Mapping System.
Who should I contact about a zoning ordinance violation?
Land use, building, engineering or business license complaints may be submitted to Washoe311 at (775) 328-2003 or contact Washoe County Code Enforcement at (775) 328-6106 or email@example.com. All complaints received will be investigated by code enforcement.
How many dogs and cats may I have?
Washoe County allows dogs and cats on all Washoe County private property and the number pets (more than 7 cats and more than 3 dogs within congested areas) is regulated by Regional Animal Services (RAS). RAS follows Washoe County Code Chapter 55 and includes regulations on noisy animals, waste disposal, the number of animals, animal abuse, animal restraint/confinement, licensing, and vaccinations. For more information please call (775) 322-DOGS (3647) or visit them online.
How do I find out if I am in unincorporated Washoe County?
To determine if your property is within unincorporated Washoe County or within the City of Reno or City of Sparks look up your property on the Washoe Regional Mapping System. You can look up the property with either the address or assessor’s parcel number (APN).
Centralized Washoe Regional Mapping System: 1) enter your property address or APN in the search bar 2) Select your parcel. 3) In the gray box, the “Corporate Area” will indicate your jurisdiction.
Which permits will I need for my project?
Building permits or land entitlement approvals are required to ensure that a proposed project meets local adopted code. All projects are different and require permits that related to the type of project and the location and zoning of the project site. It may be helpful to consider what you would like to do on your property (our project information sheet is helpful tool), and, then contact one of our planners to determine which permits you will need.
How do I find the size of my parcel?
To determine the size of a property within unincorporated Washoe County or within the City of Reno or City of Sparks look up your property on the Washoe Regional Mapping System (WRMS).
In WRMS: 1) enter your property address in the search bar 2) Select your parcel. 3) In the gray box, the square ft: indicates the size of your built property (your building/home in feet), the acreage indicates the size of the property (in acres).Washoe County provides neighborhood services (planning, building, engineering etc.) for residents within unincorporated Washoe County. The City of Reno and City of Sparks have unique codes and regulations within their jurisdictions. They have community development/neighborhood services within their boundaries.
How do I submit public comment on a project application to planning?
Washoe County Community Services Department Planning is responsible for the public review process with the Planning Commission and the Board of Adjustment. If you are interested in providing public comment on an item being heard before those boards, you may do so prior to the meeting or during the meeting itself.
Prior to the meeting, submit your public comment in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the meeting, you may provide public comment before the Board at the dias in person or virtually using zoom. Information on public comments and submission of supporting materials is included at the top of the meeting agenda.
How can I find out my regulatory zone?
Regulatory zones for every property are easily viewed online using www.washoecounty.gov
- In the search bar, type your property address
- The property will be included in the search results.
- Confirm the jurisdiction in “Area”.
- The zoning is listed under the year built.
- Zoning options include PR (public resource – example is a library),
In addition to the search function, additional information may be found within the Washoe Regional Mapping System.
How can I find out if a structure is permitted?All construction permits are included on a centralized platform for Washoe County and partners OneNV.us. There are multiple ways to review construction permits issued for a project. OneNv.US: On the online platform, please use the “Building Tab”, select Washoe for the agency and building permit for the record type. Complete the form specific to the area of concern.
Washoe County permits new and improvements to current construction. Construction built prior to ownership is grandfathered in as long as public safety concerns are addressed. New or rebuilt construction must meet current code.