Short-term rental hosts in Denver must be licensed by end of 2016

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DENVER -- Short-term rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO continue to explode in popularity across the country. In Denver, the city is now regulating the practice with a new law and hosts must be licensed by Dec. 31.

The new law, passed by Denver City Council in July, mandates that all hosts must collect a 10.75 percent lodging tax from guests, get a business license and post the license number on any advertisement.

“What we wanted to do was formalize that process and really try to protect our neighborhoods and the residential character of those but also allow this popular practice to continue,” said Dan Rowland, Communications Director for Denver Excise and Licenses.

Hosts will also have to provide a packet with information about city rules and restrictions, as well as make sure all safety measures are in place. Such as functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers.

“I think as hosts we all wanted to be legal,” Airbnb host Buffy Gilfoil said of the new law. “We didn’t like operating in the shadows.”

The new law does take money out of the host’s pocket, but it also makes short-term rentals legal in Denver.

“In the short term it may hurt some people because it’s not as economical as it was before when you add the hefty (lodging) percentage to it,” Gilfoil said. “On the other hand, we are above board because we are a business in Denver. The city is going to be supporting us, and we should be able to get some city support in getting the word out there that this kind of lodging is available for people who want to come to Denver and I think that could be a big bonus.”

The new law requires a $25 annual licensing fee on top of the 10.75 percent lodging tax. Fines for those operating without a license are up to $999 per incident.

Hosts can follow the three-step process to licensing online at Denvergov.org/STR.