Denver short-term rentals show signs of tourism recovery

Data Desk

DENVER (KDVR) — Denver’s tourism economy is bouncing back, although it hasn’t yet reached pre-pandemic levels.

Denver requires licenses and taxes from all property owners who rent the homes out on a short-term basis through travel sites such as Airbnb or Vrbo. The number of these licenses as of Wednesday was up 7% from the previous month.

The number of short-term rentals is still down, however, from the beginning of the pandemic.

Since March 2020, the number of Denver short-term rental licenses has dropped by more than 400.

Although they may come back to pre-pandemic levels, it could take much longer for short-term rentals to return to previous heights.

As with crime and drug overdoses, the COVID pandemic did not whittle down the city’s licenses on its own, but rather intensified a trend that had begun months before.

The number of short-term rentals had topped out in Denver months before the pandemic started. At their height, licenses numbered well over 2,700 in late 2019 after surging for two years.

Part of the downward trend is related to the City of Denver’s regulations.

Since 2016, short-term rental licenses in Denver require property owners to live in the homes they rent out. Over the years, the Denver City Council has had to tighten rules and definitions several times to make sure owners weren’t skirting the rules.

The council had to tighten definitions at the beginning of the pandemic in May 2020, then voted to fine any online rental platform violations in November 2020.

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