Proposed Breckenridge short-term rental rule requires 1-hour response time for complaints
BRECKENRIDGE — If property owners want to rent their Breckenridge homes on websites like Airbnb.com or VRBO.com, the town’s elected officials say that someone needs to be willing to pick up a phone.
The call might come in the middle of the day. The phone could ring at 3 a.m. The time doesn’t matter as much to council as someone taking responsibility for controlling the trash, parking and noise complaints generated by short-term rental properties.
Breckenridge Town Council withstood a hurricane of angry homeowners Tuesday night and held steadfast in unanimously approving on first reading what town staff framed as an update to the town’s business licensing procedures.
The practice of short-term renting — either by homeowners or through property-management companies — has created a new way for owners to earn extra income renting out their homes for short stays. In a destination market like Breckenridge, short-term renting has allowed people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford property here to buy in Summit County.
But the booming industry has also ignited a flood of criticism, drawing fire from people who feel like the rentals are destroying their neighborhoods and eroding the quality of life for those living nearby.
The ordinance is the town’s latest effort to answer mounting complaints generated by these rental properties and the impacts they’re having on neighbors by creating a 24-hour hotline so people can phone in concerns about short-term rentals.
The ordinance is intended to quell issues over parking, trash and noise, not things like leaky faucets, Breckenridge Director of Finance Brian Waldes said.
Most everyone who offered comments took issue with a provision in the ordinance requiring “a local contact” to resolve complaints within one hour all hours of the day, every day of the year, or the property owner could face a hearing.
The owners argued the timeframe is too short, the language too vague and that the rule could force them into using a property-management company or stop them from renting altogether.
More than one said they felt like the town was discriminating against short-term rentals because no other business is required to take such measures at all hours of the night.
But council disagreed, stuck up for the neighbors and likened the rentals to commercial enterprises that need boots-on-the-ground oversight.
The new rules are months in the making, if not longer. Much is borrowed from Vail. According to Breckenridge officials, the biggest difference might be that Vail cuts the allotted time to respond to complaints in half, down to only 30 minutes during the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Breckenridge owners adamantly maintained that enforcement of these kinds of issues, particularly noise complaints, would be a job best left to local police, not property owners.
Again council disagreed, saying the department doesn’t have the manpower to police minor issues with short-term rentals, nor do police track the complaints related to short-term rentals.
“You know, the cops have more important things to do at 3 a.m. than go to your unit and tell people to be quiet,” councilman Jeffrey Bergeron said.
The new hotline would allow the town to identify the properties causing the biggest problems.
Each properties’ local contact can be anyone who’s able to resolve a complaint within an hour. It could be the owner, a family member, friend or someone who’s paid, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be anyone affiliated with a property-management company. The determining factor, Waldes said, is that the “agent can respond within 60 minutes.”
Anyone accused of a violation could request a hearing, Waldes added. He would unilaterally decide on the hearing, but there is some recourse for owners who feel they’ve been falsely accused or were subjected to forces outside their control, such as a snowstorm.
After repeated violations, though, town could move to revoke a homeowner’s business license.
Read the full story at SummitDaily.com.
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