In EagleVail, short-term rentals remain a source of debate
The neighborhood's covenants are silent on short-term rentals, and a previous ban attempt failed
EAGLEVAIL — Just because the law is silent on a topic doesn’t stop debate. In EagleVail, there’s a long-running question about whether people can use their units for short-term rentals.
Judd Watts is the president of the EagleVail Property Owners Association. That group is responsible for understanding and enforcing the covenants — the neighborhood’s ground rules — that apply in the area.
A history of no restrictions
Watts has personal experience with the covenants. In 2002, before Watts bought a unit in EagleVail, he decided to explore his options about what to do with the place, which previous renters had badly damaged. With his background in construction, his options included short-term and seasonal rental, long-term rental, personal use or fixing and flipping the unit.
He reached out to Matt Bryan, the covenant compliance officer for the neighborhood, because the covenants are silent on short-term rental options while quite specific on the restrictions on lock-offs, bed-and-breakfasts and motels. Bryan then asked the association president, Brian O’Reilly, an attorney, for clarification. O’Reilly responded that no restrictions on short-term rentals were in the covenants. O’Reilly is also the attorney who in 1992 helped put in place the neighborhood’s amendment and restated declarations of covenants.
A few years later, Watts recalls that a new property owners association attempted to ban short-term rentals. Watts said “dozens” of attorneys reviewed the proposal. Roughly 300 property owners voted down that attempt based on the lawyers’ advice.
Watts said some residents have argued that short-term rentals weren’t an issue in 1992, when the covenants were amended.
Watts went to look at Vail Daily classified ads from the pre-internet days of 1991, and just about every day had a category for short-term rentals — frequently ads for properties in EagleVail.
Plenty to argue about
Because the neighborhood covenants are silent on short-term rentals, there’s been plenty of argument about the topic over the years. Individual condo and townhome associations can ban short-term rentals if members vote to do so, but there’s no neighborhood-wide regulation. Making that change would require a vote to alter the covenants. That vote would require a majority of owners of all 1,450 properties in the neighborhood.
The property owners association in 2007 and 2008 formed a rental committee. That group looked into long-term, seasonal and short-term rentals. What came from the work was a document listing appropriate behaviors for the neighborhood. Based on the covenants, the list covers issues including parking, noise, trash and leash requirements for dogs.
Watts said that in the six years he’s been on the property owners board, that group has received “one or two” complaints per year.
“The (property owners association) has always gotten involved,” he said. “We’ve always had conversations with (property owners)” on reported violations regarding the neighborhood’s rules.
And, he added, the association “always will demand and insist on asking for respect of neighbors and the community.”
While short-term rentals are allowed, it’s hard to tell how much benefit the neighborhood sees from the revenue generated.
Eagle County finance director Jill Klosterman wrote in an email that the county doesn’t have a dedicated lodging tax. But, she added, those who short-term rent their units are responsible for paying the county’s 1.5% sales tax. The state collects that tax and then returns it to local governments. Those sales taxes are then distributed to the EagleVail Metropolitan District from the county.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2930.