Town of Vail likely to change short-term rental regulations in response to complaints
The Vail Town Council is expected to make some changes to its short-term rental regulations, including:
• Requiring all property owners to register with the town, at $150 per unit.
• Violations will be decriminalized, with fines being the sole penalties.
• Fines will start at $500 for a first offense, $2,500 for the third offense.
• Four or more violations can result in a two-year prohibition for using a unit as a short-term rental.
Source: Town of Vail
VAIL — Anything new usually needs some work. That’s the case with Vail’s short-term rental regulations.
Those regulations went into effect in March of this year in an attempt to get a measure of control — both revenue and handling complaints from neighbors — over short-term rentals, particularly those done via the internet.
It didn’t take long for the town’s property managers to discover ways the regulations were complicating their business.
Responding to complaints, town staff met with property managers over the summer. Those meetings resulted in proposed changes to the regulations.
Town finance director Kathleen Halloran talked about those changes with the Vail Town Council at the board’s afternoon meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 16. The council in November will likely see an ordinance making those rule changes
Perhaps most significant is requiring all short-term rentals to be registered with the town. Under the current regulations, units in “condo-tel” buildings — condo buildings with front desks — are exempt from a requirement for business licenses.
Under the proposed changes, all units will be required to register with the town. That change will come with a $150-per-unit annual fee.
Halloran said registering all units will allow the town to have better information — and potential enforcement — of short-term rental rules.
Halloran told council members that the proposed fee is still on the low side of what other communities are doing and is needed to pay the costs of regulation enforcement. Those costs have included hiring staff and the purchase of new tracking software.
Program changes are also expected to include a change to how violations are handled. The proposed change will eliminate possible criminal penalties for violations, moving toward a fine-only system.
After some council discussion, the agreed-upon fines are $500 for the first violation, $1,500 for the second and $2,500 for the third. Four or more violations can result in a two-year suspension of a short-term permit.
There will also be some changes to the requirement for a local contact person for complaints.
The current regulations require that just one person be listed as the contact. Property managers said they’d prefer to have one number, so more than one employee can respond to complaints.
Michael Connolly, general manager of Triumph Mountain Properties, said he’s generally pleased with the proposed changes.
Connolly also recommended that a unit owner’s contact information be dropped from information provided in professionally managed units. Council members quickly agreed.
While these changes are likely to be adopted before ski season begins, there will probably be more changes to the rules in the future.
Mayor Dave Chapin said the short-term rental market continues to evolve, with resort towns across the country working to understand and regulate it. He said he expects best practices to come from Vail and other communities’ efforts.
Council members generally favor short-term rentals being handled by property-management firms. Council member Jenn Bruno said she hopes that the town’s regulations encourage people to use professional managers for their units, particularly since someone else will handle late-night complaint calls.
And, she added, it’s likely the town’s regulations will need still more work in the future.
Council member Travis Coggin said he’s pleased with the work that’s been done so far.
“This levels the playing field,” he said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2930.