Rules for short-term rentals up for debate in Denver

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DENVER -- Short-term rentals are popping up all over the Denver metro area and the city is proposing a way to regulate them.

The final of four town hall meetings was held Thursday night to discuss the proposal with the public.

Short-term rentals are illegal in Denver residential zones. But more than 2,000 residences are listed on sites like VRBO and AirBNB.

“It’s too difficult to enforce,” Denver City Councilwoman for District 5 Mary Beth Susman said. “It’s growing and we just don’t have the manpower. But if we regulate it, we can have some control over it.”

Short-term rentals are defined as renting a residence for fewer than 30 days. Denver currently has more than 1,700 hosts.

“It helps us make ends meet,” said John Krauklis, a Denver short-term rental host. “It makes ski trips possible, trips to go see the family.”

Hotels are also calling for regulation of short-term rentals.

“The Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association came to us and said they would like us to regulate this and charge a tax just to level the playing field,” Susman said.

The proposed regulation would include a $25 license fee and 10.75 percent tax, just like hotels have to pay. The biggest issue that has been voiced in the town hall meetings involves secondary residences.

“The problem I have is with the secondary residency restriction. I think that should be allowed. It would not allow me to do my business how I am proposing to do it,” Krauklis said.

“If you buy an apartment house and take it off the market and use it as a short-term rental, you’ve taken $1,000 a month that you’re getting $150 a night and you’ve pulled that kind of diversified housing from our stock,” Susman said.

As of now, the proposal would only allow short-term rentals at the host’s primary residence.

The next city council hearing regarding the proposal is set for mid-March, and if all goes well, the new ordinance could be in effect by June.

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