Town of Vail looks long term at rent-by-owner short-term rental rules
July 14, 2017
By the numbers
40 percent: Estimated percent of the owners who rent short-term in Vail who have complied with the town’s two requirements: 1. Get a business license. 2. Pay the town’s 4 percent sales tax and 1.4 percent lodging tax.
9,098: Number of residential units in Vail. Of those, 1,725 are hotels and lodges. 1,810 are primary residences and 5,237 are second homes.
5,021: Number of residential units in Vail not available for short-term rental, including 1,743 primary residences, 2,952 second homes and 326 deed-restricted properties.
2,352: Number of residential units in Vail available for short-term rental, including 2,068 managed short-term rentals, 217 second homes licensed as rent-by-owner units and 67 primary homes licensed as rent-by-owner units.
Sources: Kathy Halloran, town of Vail finance director; Vail Inventory Analysis, April 26, 2017; DestiMetrics and RRC Associates
VAIL — Town of Vail officials heard from dozens on all sides of the rent-by-owner issue during Tuesday's public-input gathering session, where residents were asked what they thought about short-term, rent-by-owner units in their neighborhoods, especially those rented through online platforms. Vail also received about 150 responses to a survey issued on the same topic.
The results covered a wide spectrum of perspectives, from "Why is the government trying to regulate my private property?" to the economic equation in which some people say they cannot stay in the area without that extra income to those who want the town to regulate someone else's property.
Residential short-term rentals are defined as housing units that are rented 30 days or fewer per year. Resorts have been in the short-term rental business since there have been resorts, but technology has made it possible for owners to rent out their properties directly through online platforms.
Pros and cons
"One issue is fairness," said Vail resident Steve Pope. "People have been in the valley and have built their property based on the ability to short-term rent it. You cannot take something that has been in place for decades, flip it around and tell them that their business model is no longer allowed."
Like most communities that have dealt with this issue, it's more about regulation than it is about whether you do it or don't, and Vail always has.
"We've been a community since 1962, and there were short-term rentals," Pope said.
Vail resident Mike Reid counseled caution. In a letter to the town, he questioned the legality of issuing a business license to operate in a residential neighborhood.
"Short-term rentals are beneficial in many ways, and I support the concept … but allowing them to migrate into residential neighborhoods raises many concerns," Reid wrote. "If the town of Vail allows short-term rental activities, unchecked, in our residential neighborhoods, they may be inviting disastrous consequences."
Craig Carty and his family are in the rent-by-owner business. They live in Gainesville, Florida, and have been at The Wren in Vail since 1989. They bought and remodeled a unit they rent themselves through Vacation Rental By Owner.
Carty is a big fan of the rent-by-owner business model. He also bought a business license and pays his taxes and fees.
Aubrey Powell grew up in the valley and works with a local vacation-rental company. The good reasons vacation-rental properties should have a local manager are endless, she said.
Vacationers can cause some fuss as they enjoy themselves. You don't want the neighbors calling the police or fire department unless it's an emergency. You want people calling the management company and letting them deal with it.
"It helps ensure safety and a good experience for our guests," Powell said.
Short-term rental owners need to be licensed and taxed, so the hotels and other vacation-rental companies are not at a disadvantage, Pope said.
"They need to be on an equal footing," he said.
The study says
Vail commissioned DestiMetrics and RRC Associates to take a look at short-term rentals in the town.
Vail is one of Colorado's least restrictive resort towns, according to a study by Chris Cares, a consultant with DestiMetrics and RRC Associates.
The study looked at 10 Western ski resort towns: Aspen, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Durango, Steamboat Springs, Telluride and Vail in Colorado, as well as Jackson, Wyoming; Park City, Utah; and South Lake Tahoe, California.
Some towns require business licenses. Some don't. Some require inspections, quality control and permits, homeowners' association approval and that you notify neighbors within 300 feet.
Durango appears the most heavy handed, with a permit fee of $750, in addition to inspection fees.
Then there's South Lake Tahoe, which charges $550 for an application fee. If you're denied a permit, it costs you $1,000 to appeal.
"Vail has taken a lighter approach to regulation of residential short-term rentals in comparison to some jurisdictions," the DestiMetrics study stated.
On the other hand, because the town's regulations are so light, calculating exactly how many rent-by-owner units are in town is difficult, the report said.
The Town Council will review a summary of the feedback from Tuesday's session and the survey, as well as observations from the town's boards and commissions, in August to determine next steps.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.