Vail Daily letter: The hostel next door |

Vail Daily letter: The hostel next door

Imagine being the owner of a well-maintained townhome in Eagle, in a complex where the front doors are 2 feet apart. Now picture yourself discovering that your next-door neighbor has set up an online profile to rent out a bedroom in their home, on a rotating nightly basis.

A popular website called Airbnb caters specifically to this sort of hostel-type rental, and there is essentially no screening of the individuals who use the site. There is only one party that benefits from a situation like this: The homeowner collecting the money.

This has become a very controversial issue in cities across the country. The community does not benefit in any way. This night-by-night rental situation is no more than a hostel, and it puts the community at risk. It is one thing to allow this sort of transaction within the context of a single family home, but it’s another situation entirely in a multi-unit community where families (and children) are in such close proximity.

As a member of the community, you have no control over who rents your neighbor’s spare room, and you potentially could be allowing your family to come into close contact with an individual of questionable character. Yes, they could be a great person, but you have no way of knowing this until it’s too late. It’s up to you whether you want to roll the dice.

These rental sites can lend you a false sense of security, but does casual correspondence over the Internet guarantee any sort of background check for the perfect stranger that pulls off of I-70 and is suddenly staying right next-door? It’s extremely easy to set up a bogus email account or fake identification, if you know what you are doing. Ask any law enforcement officer or simply watch the evening news.

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Theoretically, if a crime were to be committed (theft, vandalism, assault, etc.), it would be more difficult to conduct an investigation. Did you see the vehicle? Can you give a description of the individual? Remember, this is not someone living in your community whom you see on a regular basis. They could be on and off the property within less than 24 hours.

The Vail Valley was developed as a resort community, but it has become much more than that. To preserve our neighborhoods, we need keep each other informed and draw attention to the fact that this can happen right next door. Would you want to encounter a perfect stranger (daily) outside your front door? How is that any different than living at a motel?

You may not feel that you have the time (or desire) to read all the paperwork associated with the purchase of a property, but it’s critical that you make the time, especially if you are purchasing a property in a multi-unit development. Make sure that you read the HOA (homeowner association) documents, twice if necessary. It’s also advisable to research the property management company that oversees the property (perhaps that’s an article for another day).

You can avoid many of these problems if you’re familiar with your homeowner association by-laws, and if you address this sort of possibility with your board of directors. You need to pay attention to what is going on in your community and look out for your neighbors.

Ruth Murray

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