A third of Summit County homes are at least occasionally used as Airbnb-style short-term rentals, according to county commissioner Thomas Davidson. As with elsewhere in the state, that brings disagreements between neighbors, citizen landlords and guests.
“We’ve had open sewage running down a driveway because someone had overrun a septic system at a house, a crazy loud party, a bear eating overflowing trash," Davidson said.
Right now cities can set rules on everything from parking to trash, but rules for short-term rentals operating outside of a city’s boundaries aren’t enforced in the same way.
House Bill 1093 would allow counties in Colorado to license VRBO, Airbnb and other short-term rentals that are outside of cities in unincorporated areas. The main sponsors are from rural parts of the state that rely heavily on the tourism industry and say there have been numerous complaints in their communities about how some short-term rentals are managed, from too many cars parked on the street to too much noise to overflowing trash bins.
“We hope to be far more responsive, be able to address these particular problems around parking, trash, snow clearance, septic and well use,” Democratic state Rep. Julie McCluskie of Dillon said.
According to AirDNA, a website that tracks the industry, there are currently 2,739 active short term vacation rentals in the Dillon area alone.
“We want to be able to address those out of the gate so that our short term rental owners are aware of their responsibilities before we end up with these problems,” McCluskie said. “It is not to dampen the short term rental market. We know they're essential to Colorado's very vibrant and thriving tourism economy.”
Republican state Rep. Jim Wilson of Salida, another sponsor of the bill, said it wouldn’t require counties to regulate short term rentals, but he said many already are doing it through their land use regulations.
“That's the problem. What [are the] county commissioners going to do this week to regulate it? There's no guidelines. Municipalities have it. Counties do not.”
Davidson also said land use regulations aren’t enforced in the same way as licenses.
“Any sort of enforcement is a lengthy, time-consuming process that involves heading off to court. With licensing you have the ability to immediately suspend a license, write someone a ticket and provide an immediate response,” Davidson said.
During a debate in the House on Monday several Republican lawmakers expressed concerns about added government involvement in issues like the number of cars parked in front of a house.
“I would just ask, is it really the government's business, whether it's a large family reunion over the weekend or if it's something else?” asked Republican state Rep. Tim Geitner of Falcon. “I just don't know that we need to dive into that level of granularity of people, that are looking to do different functions on their private property.”
Republican state Rep. Shane Sandridge represents El Paso County and said his district, near the United States Air Force Academy, has a lot of people who temporarily rent out homes or rooms.
“The people in my district don't want this,” Sandridge said. “They don't need increased taxes. They don't need increased regulation and they want local control. To say this won’t dampen the market when you increase regulation and taxes is fundamentally not true.”
The measure passed its first committee 9-2 and is expected to handily clear the House.
A different proposal dealing with short-term rentals is not expected to pass the legislature. Senate Bill 109 would increase the taxes on short-term rentals to the same rate as commercial properties.