How to make a difference

Denver Airbnb rules aren’t set in stone, and your opinion can make a difference

As the city continues to figure out best practices for regulating short term rentals in the city, you still have a couple of chances to weigh in on how the new industry should be regulated.

A home in Kansas City, Missouri listed on Airbnb by John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. (Courtesy of Airbnb)

A home in Kansas City, Missouri listed on Airbnb by John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. (Courtesy of Airbnb)

Allan Tellis. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; staff photo;

With the city attempting to craft new rules to help regulate the short-term rental industry, you may find yourself caring about Airbnb more than you ever thought you would.

The Short Term Rental Advising Committee (STRAC) was created in 2016 when Denver realized it had to deal with the emerging temporary housing industry that had made its way from the coasts to the mile-high city. Since then, its found some bumps in the road.

“We continue to hold meetings so we can hear from all people involved to verify that our rules are working, identify any potential changes that would strengthen how Denver regulates short-term rentals and make the best decisions going forward. Denver is committed to having a balanced approach in all regulations and licenses, so we best serve the public,” said Eric Escudero, the director of communications for the department of excise and licenses.

One of the major issues the city was dealing with early on the process was the lack of compliance with city regulations from those renting out property and placing ads for their potential patrons. With those property owners not following the proper registration guidelines, the city was not aware of the number of short-term rentals available and they could not collect the lodger’s tax, which is a sizable chunk of tax revenue, especially given the large number of people using short-term rentals for extra income.

A chart that shows the trend of compliance rates for short term rentals in the city of Denver (Courtesy of the city of Denver)

A chart that shows the trend of compliance rates for short term rentals in the city of Denver (Courtesy of the city of Denver)

Since its inception, the STRAC has dramatically improved their compliance numbers, but the committee is still hard at work crafting new regulations that will help residents feel comfortable with how these operations exist in residential areas. The committee is walking a thin line between over-regulating a new industry and allowing a free for all that leaves neighbors unhappy. During the last meeting, Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman mentioned that it is essential to keep this industry available to the many Colorado residents that use the income from extra rooms in their house to meet their mortgage, while another committee member, INC president George Mayl, vouched for significantly tighter regulations because neighborhoods are not commercial.

Possibly most importantly, the committee is looking to close loopholes that make it easier for bad actors to skirt the regulations and continue to operate short-term rentals without going through the proper channels.

In attendance at this meeting: There was a pretty decent sized crowd in attendance of about 30 people. Attendees ranged the entire age spectrum, but there was a healthy concentration of older participants.

Length of this meeting: All STRAC meetings are held from 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays in the Webb Building at 201 W. Colfax Ave., Rooms 4.F.6 and 4.G.2. This particular meeting ran a couple of minutes over. You might want to give yourself a couple of extra minutes to get there as parking is limited and traffic can be especially tough around that time.

Format of this meeting: The meeting starts with opening introductions by the committee members (and the committee is quite large). Then they have an open discussion about new updates in the world of Denver’s short-term rentals. They allow for 15 minutes of public comments and the end of the meeting, with speakers being capped at two minutes. They do allow participation from the crowd during the open discussion if it is pertinent to the information being presented.

An example of feedback organizers say has made a difference is: As they tried to determine how often a primary resident had to stay in the property they were renting out,several audience members made salient points about reasons they may have to leave their properties for extended periods of time, which led to the committee considering creating an appeal process where property owners could explain why they needed to rent their homes for a prolonged period.

You can find out more about this subject: By contacting the STRAC committee at STR@DenverGov.org, or attending one of their final two public meetings, which will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 25, and Tuesday, Nov. 27.

Other meetings or subjects you might be interested in: If you’re interested in this because you’re worried about the impact it could have on your neighborhood, check out your next registered neighborhood organization’s meeting and see if that sentiment resonates with others in your area. If you’re worried about the impact this could have on the housing scene in Denver, take a look at this.

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