Property managers: Fixes needed for Vail short-term rental regulations
Here’s a quick look at Vail’s short-term rental scene and regulations:
• A short-term rental license is $150 per year.
• Fines for noncompliance can be as high as $2,650 per day.
• There are about 2,600 short-term rental units in the town.
• The town has both an online complaint system and a local phone number, 970-331-0632.
VAIL — When this town established short-term rental regulations, the idea was to get online rentals tracked and under control. But the regulations have created problems for local property management firms.
A group of property managers spoke about those problems at the Vail Town Council’s evening meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
Complaints focused on parts of the regulations that make business more difficult for property management companies.
Bart Cuomo, of Vail Realty, told council members that one of the problems management companies face is individual requirements on owners. One of those requirements is for notarized affidavits certifying compliance with various parts of the regulations.
Cuomo told council members that requirement, in some cases, requires owners in other countries to have documents notarized at a U.S. embassy.
“We shouldn’t have to ask someone in Mexico City, London or Hong Kong to get a document notarized to attest to physical conditions,” Michael Connolly, of Triumph Mountain Properties, told council members.
Council members said those and other problems with the regulations can be corrected.
“We knew there’d be unintended consequences,” council member Jenn Bruno said. “But we had to start somewhere.”
Part of the drive for short-term rental regulations in Vail came from property management companies asking for a more level playing field with online services including Airbnb.
“The intent wasn’t to adversely affect (management companies),” Bruno said, adding that the regulations were intended to cut down on complaints about online rentals. Those complaints came from both guests and neighbors of rented units.
Responding to the management companies, Mayor Dave Chapin said he wants to see the regulations fixed, and soon.
“We want to get this right for our guests,” Chapin said. “We want a better experience for our guests, (property) owners and the real estate community.”
In a telephone interview on Thursday, Sept. 6, Cuomo said the council seems to be headed in the right direction.
Cuomo acknowledged the intent of the regulations is good.
“The ordinance from the beginning was supported by property management companies,” Cuomo said. “No one anticipated that it would extend to owners who (use) property management companies.
Cuomo said one of the biggest flaws in the current regulations is the failure to acknowledge the “agency” relationship between property owners and management companies. In that relationship, management companies can act on behalf of owners. Under the current regulations, owners have to file their own paperwork.
The regulations also require property management companies to submit tax payments individually.
Management companies in the past have filed lump-sum payments for all their clients.
Burdens for owners
In another post-meeting interview, Connolly said that the requirement for individual compliance created a burden for owners.
Another problem is the requirement for an individual local contact. That doesn’t account for firms that have multiple employees.
“What happens when I change staff?” Connolly asked.
In another post-meeting phone interview, Ted Steers, of Vail Village Rentals and the Colorado Real Estate Center, said the regulations, in his view, unintentionally excluded his company from the same rules that apply to properties with front-desk management.
The property managers interviewed after the meeting all complimented Vail’s council for what appears to be quick action on revising the regulations.
“This is how local government should function,” Connolly said. “They created a rule, and the community has come back and said… these pieces aren’t working the way they should. … That’s what most of us would hope for from a local government.”
Cuomo agreed. And, he said, short-term rental regulations in Vail and other ski towns have to recognize the way those rentals are different than in other areas.
“We don’t have many hotels,” Cuomo said, adding that most of the town’s lodging stock is in private condos and homes. Alienating that group was a mistake, he said. But, Cuomo said, “The council to this point couldn’t be more receptive.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 970-748-2930.
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