Avon signs one-year contract with short-term rental compliance company
AVON — Silicon Valley-based company Host Compliance will soon start keeping a digital eye on short-term rental properties in Avon.
With a stated focus of “short-term rental compliance monitoring and enforcement solutions for local governments,” Host Compliance expects the approximately $50,000 the Avon Town Council approved for a one-year contract with the company will more than pay for itself in business license revenue and tax collections from properties that are currently using short-term rental services and not paying all proper fees to the town.
When Host Compliance talks about short-term rental services, it’s not just talking about Airbnb, the industry giant currently earning billions in revenue. New companies are popping up all the time, and keeping up on those websites is part of the package Host Compliance is providing to Avon. Address identification is the benchmark service Host Compliance offers, and a list of short-term vacation rentals will be provided to the town.
“It’s not as if it would be as easy to go to all these sites … and pull the information from the site,” said Paul Hetherington with Host Compliance. “The actual address isn’t there.”
Also part of that package is compliance monitoring, outreach to illegal short-term rental operators, rental activity monitoring for tax compliance enforcement and other practices that require knowledge of activity level on short-term rentals and a hotline where neighbors can report non-emergency short-term rental problems.
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Council member Matt Gennett said he has had to deal with short-term rental monitoring in working at other municipalities — Gennett currently works for the town of Silverthorne — and knows how complicated it can be.
“I think it’s absolutely worth trying for at least a one-year contract and see how it works out,” Gennett said.
Hetherington added that if it doesn’t appear that it’s working out, Host Compliance offers a money-back guarantee.
“We’d be very surprised to find out that it wasn’t fairly seriously revenue-positive, specifically for Avon,” Hetherington said.
In examining the town of Avon, Host Compliance found 782 rental properties operating in town. Avon Finance Director Scott Wright said about 100 business licenses have been issued to short term renters in Avon, where a $50 annual fee applies.
Host Compliance predicted an estimated $39,100 of potential business license related revenue recovery and approximately $156,400 on tax related revenue recovery for a total of $195,500.
Council member Scott Prince said he felt those numbers were inflated; council member Megan Burch said even if they were inflated by four times the amount the town will actually receive, then it will still be a revenue neutral endeavor.
Council member Jake Wolf also expressed some concern over the $50,000 price tag, but, being a short-term renter himself, he did not vote on the issue due to his own financial interest in vacation rentals. Prince was not at the meeting in which the contract was voted on, and it passed unanimously.
FROM CALIFORNIA TO COLORADO
In bringing Host Compliance to the town to present its services, Wright pointed out that the issue has been making its way across the West and referenced a recent story by Outside magazine.
“In the Mountain West — ‘God’s country, renter’s hell,’ as one alt-weekly tagged it — where towns are already chronically beset by housing shortages, traffic problems and the invariable ambivalence about sharing one’s slice of heaven with the tourists who help sustain it, the entrance of Airbnbs and VRBOs and HomeAways has heightened the tension,” writes Tom Vanderbilt.
Hetherington said Host Compliance was formed by Ulrik Binzer, who noticed the issue was a problem in the community of Tiburon in Marin County, California.
“That’s where he first figured out that the short-term vacation rental websites, and the fact that they didn’t share information, made the situation very difficult to manage,” Hetherington said. “Being a technology veteran and successful start-up entrepreneur, he got a technical team together and found that it was actually possible to get that information.”
After starting in California, “we were then alerted that a similar problem was happening in the mountains of Colorado,” Hetherington said.
Host Compliance came to market in 2016 and has already signed on with more than 50 towns in California and Colorado, including Denver and Fort Collins.
“We’ve been very, very lucky with adoption, pretty much faster than any other product I’ve seen in my couple of decades working with local governments,” Hetherington said.