Unlicensed Short Term Rentals

Visitor Question: I operate an Airbnb in Colorado. My town recently enacted an ordinance for STR to require a license and a 10% ratio of short term rentals to homes limit. I paid $500 for a license but I do not see other STR displaying their license number, so it leads me to believe they are not getting a license. How can I make sure my town is treating everyone fairly and making these other STR get their licenses? How can a town actually enforce this new ordinance? Should I hire a lawyer to find out how they are handling this new ordinance and how they are going to make sure everyone is treated equally? It sounds like an unfair playing field is developing. Thank you for any insight you might have.

Editors Reply: The best enforcement methods we have seen regarding any aspect of short-term rental enforcement all rely on city officials being able to do a little sleuthing. We think your job, and that of any friends or allies you can enlist to help you, is to insist that the city engage in vigorous enforcement.

Here's how they do that. They themselves will need to visit the Airbnb website and that of other prominent rental websites, such as VRBO, booking.com, and others. They need to locate properties in your specific town, and then see if those locations are licensed. On some platforms the exact location is masked until booked, so they may have to make some bookings too. In our opinion this is a small price to pay to detect property owners who are evading their newly enacted license requirement.

It may be that some owners are genuinely unaware that they are supposed to be licensed. Others may already be violating the zoning ordinance by virtue of their existence, so these people will be afraid to come forward to obtain their license. We have seen this situation in some towns.

Possibly some property owners have the license already and haven't updated their listings on the internet.

Presumably your city was purposeful in its enacting of the licensing requirement, so persist in making sure that you are not being penalized financially because you are complying with the law and your competitors are not.

Yes, our proposed solution does require some legwork on the part of city employees, so do not be too surprised if they are a little resistant. That is when you escalate the problem by calling it to the attention of your city council (or equivalent) that your city staff is not enforcing the law that they the council have passed.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Ask a Question.

Join USEFUL COMMUNITY PLUS, which provides you monthly with short features or tips about timely topics for neighborhoods, towns and cities, community organizations, rural environments, and our international friends. Unsubscribe any time. Give it a try.