Want to short-term rent your property in or near Vail? You need to abide by these rules
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While various municipalities and Eagle County can enact short-term rental regulations, they are not the only entities with that power.
Through the planning process, individual developments can prohibit short-term rentals. The only way to find out if the use is allowed in various neighborhoods is to contact the homeowners’ association governing the area.
EAGLE COUNTY — Short-term rentals have always been part of the Vail Valley’s lodging scene. But the advent of internet-based rental services has put many more units on the market.
In an effort to somewhat control — and collect lodging taxes from — that activity, area towns have enacted regulations regarding short-term rentals.
But control is hard to come by. First there’s the matter of identifying just how many units there are. In Vail alone, it took months of research — scanning property records and online listings — to determine there are about 2,600 short-term units in town.
Then there’s the matter of getting people licensed once a government has passed regulations. As of March 2018, about 600 property owners in Vail had obtained town licenses. Vail Finance Director Kathleen Halloran said that number has grown, but slowly, in the past few months.
Then there’s taking what once were long-term rentals and converting them to short-term use. That’s put even more pressure on rental housing in the valley. In the Vail Valley Partnership’s 2018 Workforce Survey, 61 percent of employees who responded to the survey said finding housing is a major frustration.
In the town of Vail’s 2018 community survey, about 75 percent of survey respondents believe the loss of long-term housing is a problem in town. Nearly 20 percent believe the loss of long-term housing is “critical.” In all, nearly half of survey respondents listed the loss of long-term units as either a “serious” or “critical” problem.
Still, short-term rentals can be a money-maker for unit owners — although it may not be the bonanza some services promise, once management and other fees are factored into the equation.
With that in mind, here’s a look at how, or if, local governments are regulating this still-young business.
Vail’s short-term regulations were passed in 2017. Requirements include buying a short-term rental license for $150 per year and paying town lodging taxes. Owners who put their units into the short-term market also must meet several safety requirements, and an owner’s representative must reply to complaints or calls for service within an hour.
The fines for non-compliance can be steep: as much as $2,650 per day and 90 days in jail.
Still, licensing has been “slow but steady,” Halloran said.
Halloran said the town is starting to work on enforcing compliance. A full report will be presented to the Vail Town Council at its Tuesday, Aug. 7 meeting.
The Minturn Town Council in 2017 adopted a set of regulations that requires owners of short-term rental properties to pay $300 for a short-term rental license. Owners are also required to provide proof they have state and local sales tax licenses.
Minturn’s regulations have a unique feature: Property owners must own their units for at least two years before putting them into the short-term market. An owner’s representative must live within 50 miles of town in order to respond to complaints and calls for service.
Minturn Town Manager Michelle Meteer said that was the council’s effort to try to balance the property rights of owners with the desire to keep people living in town.
In Red Cliff, anyone can short-term rent their unit after acquiring a business license from the town. Owners pay their sales taxes on a quarterly basis, and in addition to paying sales tax, they’ll also have to pay a 3 percent lodging tax, which was passed by voters a few years ago.
In Avon, a special district has been established for short-term rentals. Known as the overlay zone district, the area adds another layer of zoning to the town’s already established ordinances, permitting short-term rentals in certain areas.
Current areas inside the zone district include Brookside Park, Canyon Run, Chapel Square, The Ascent, Falcon Pointe, Lakeside Terrace, Sheraton Mountain Vista, The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa and Stonebridge Cluster homes. Owners must obtain a license through the town and must pay an additional 4 percent lodging tax in addition to the standard sales tax.
Eagle remains old school when it comes to short-term rental regs.
The town has not yet updated its land-use or housing regulations to include apps such as Airbnb and HomeAway.
Those sorts of short-term rentals are allowed in the town’s central business district, downtown along Broadway Street, according to the town code. If it’s happening anywhere else, then people in the neighborhood would have to report it if they don’t like it, and the town staff will take it up from there, the town’s community development staff explained.
Like the town’s motels, if you’re short-term renting part of your house, then you have to pay the town’s motel room tax and sales taxes.
Eagle’s sales tax is 8.9 percent, including 0.5 percent for the town’s river park, which is currently under construction.
Lodging tax in Eagle is $4 per room night. Of that, $2 goes to the town’s open space fund and $2 goes to marketing and events.
The town’s temporary lodging regs deal with stays of three weeks or fewer and are aimed at motels in the central business district and commercial light and commercial general districts along the town’s Interstate 70 interchange, Chambers Avenue and Market Street.
According to Gypsum Community Development Director Lana Gallegos, the town has no current short-term rental regulations.
“I have fielded a handful of questions to see if it is allowed,” she said. “We haven’t decided, at this point in time, if that’s something we need to put in place.”
Unincorporated Eagle County
Eagle County’s land use code — which governs unincorporated areas such as Edwards, Eagle-Vail and Dotsero — has provisions for bed and breakfast and hotel/motel uses, but there is nothing on the books governing short-term rentals, nor is there any plan to take on the issue in the near future.
“I am not really hearing that much about that particular use,” noted Eagle County Community Development Director Damian Peduto.