Denver claims people are obeying Airbnb rules like crazy

City officials say they’ve been unusually successful in laying down the law.

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Early in 2017, Denver asked people to get a license before renting out their homes on Airbnb and other services.

A year later, city officials say they’ve been unusually successful in laying down the law.

The city claims that nearly 2,300 people now have a short-term rental license, compared to about 3,200 active listings.

In other words, about 71 percent of Airbnb landlords are complying with the law. That compares to about 45 percent in Portland, and it looks like Denver is already among the most effective Airbnb regulation programs in the country.

How’d they do it?

Each license holder gets a unique number that they have to include in their property listings. If you don’t include one, the city may send you a warning.

So far, about 2,000 violation notices have gone out. For those who don’t comply, the city can issue fines.  The city has issued 34 fines of $150 and eight fines of $500.

The city is also inspecting properties that have licenses. One major issue: Your Airbnb property is supposed to be your primary residence. In other words, the law forbids landlords from operating second homes as Airbnb income generators.

Meanwhile, the city is now collecting taxes from thousands of short-term rental properties — about $3 million in 2017.

City stats show that the number of rental properties dropped sharply at the beginning of the year, coinciding with the new rules, from about 37,000 down to about 2,800. The figures returned to the same levels late in 2017 — so, it’s unclear if that might be more of a seasonal effect than an enforcement effect.

The fees for operating a rental total $50 a year, and you’ll be paying a tax of 10.75 percent on your earnings. You can find the full rules and get a license on the city’s website.

Check out San Francisco, though.

Seventy-one percent compliance may seem good, but San Francisco is claiming full compliance with its new rental rules. The city’s new rules allow it to fine Airbnb and other companies $1,000 per day for every unregistered host using its service.

When the rules went into effect last month, Airbnb eliminated nearly half of its San Francisco listings.

Had an interesting experience with Airbnb in Denver? Email me. This article was updated with more current information about San Francisco’s program.