Vail Valley renting can be a rollercoaster |

Vail Valley renting can be a rollercoaster

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Coloardo ” They may come for the skiing, and they may come for the jobs, but most valley residents do not come for the housing.

As a place where many local residents cannot afford to buy a home or are in town for a seasonal job, renting and living with roommates is a fact of life.

It is always tough finding an available place to live for a few months, said Avon resident Phil Barutha, who moves between the Vail valley and Aspen.

People can go through roommates with the seasons, and friends are more transient, too, he said.

“I’ve noticed that people come and go pretty quickly,” he said.

While renting can be more convenient and definitely lowers the bills, some residents said they have dealt with everything from crazy roommates to eviction during their time in the area.

Federico Lacabaratz, of Argentina, is working as a line cook on a student visa. This is the second year that he has rented a room at the Turntable Motel in Minturn.

The rent is cheap, the motel owners are great, and it is easy to find friends among the other seasonal tenants, he said.

At the same time, living dorm-style with many other tenants can be a pain, he said.

With a bunch of people, the motel’s communal TV and kitchen can be a big mess, he said.

“Sometimes you arrive at your room and you’re really tired, and you just want to sleep, but there are people having parties in the hallways,” he said.

And sometimes, tenants take inconsiderate to new levels.

“There were a group of girls who would leave the showers on all night so they could moisturize their room. It overflowed all over the bathroom. The owners asked them to stop, but they kept doing it,” Lacabaratz said.

Avon resident Drew Brock was living at the River Run apartments in Dowd Junction when he received a letter from property management informing him that he had a couple months to move out.

“The landlord sent out a pretty confusing letter, that when read 20 times, I figured out exactly what it meant,” Brock said.

The letter said that as part of “Vail’s billion dollar renewal,” the affordable apartments would be demolished and turned into condominiums. Tenants had certain dates to move out based on which building they lived in.

Tenants were sent additional letters that kept pushing back the move-out dates, Brock said.

“(My roommate and I) said ‘To hell with it,’ and ended up leaving. My friend who stayed got three different letters. They kept pushing things back and saying we could stay longer, with a different date every time,” he said.

Some tenants had to move into other units within the complex, only to find out later that the new condos were not going to be built.

“Everybody was pissed off. It was just a big mess. The thing is, those apartments are still standing today and being leased out,” Brock said.

But the landlord-renter conflict can go both ways.

Finding good roommates in the valley can be difficult, said Keegan Winkeller, who owns a Miller Ranch home.

When putting out ads to rent out his spare bedroom, he has attracted the oddest crowd, he said. One man wanted to bring his mother along. Another woman wanted to move in with her three poodles.

“You get some crazy people. I was just constantly flabbergasted,” he said.

The worst was a renter who lived with him last summer, said Winkeller, an architect with Berglund Architects.

They had lived together for a few months when Winkeller left on a trip. He came home to find all that was left of his collection of prized wines were empty bottles in the trash.

He had been collecting the wine for several years ” they were gifts with custom labels depicting some of the first architectural projects he had worked on.

“I was so upset. I had planned to keep them and show my kids, you know? He said that he had a girl over and said he was going to pay for them ” but you can’t replace them,” he said.

Winkeller went over to a friend’s house to vent and cool off, when his roommate called, and challenged him to a fight ” outside the house, at noon, the next day, to be specific.

“I couldn’t deal with this high noon stuff, so I went back to my place, but he was gone. I tried to call him to talk about it, but he just packed up and left,” he said.

The hassle makes him want to just live by himself, he said.

“Is it so hard to find a young professional in the valley who wants to rent a room in a clean house?” he asked.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or

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