Steamboat Springs hires short-term rental compliance company |

Steamboat Springs hires short-term rental compliance company

In Steamboat Springs Colorado, a low cloud bank is just on top of a group of buildings. The day is gray.

As Steamboat Springs City Council is in the middle of discussing the regulation of short-term rentals, the city has contracted with Granicus, a national short-term rental compliance service.

City Council budgeted for the service in its 2021 budget, and Planning Director Rebecca Bessey said the city hopes to be working with Granicus before the end of the year.

“The main benefit is that we have reliable data by which we can improve our enforcement and monitor our trends,” Bessey said.

The service will begin by identifying every short-term rental within the city. Currently, permits are only required for vacation home rentals, which make up only a small percentage of the short-term rental market. Bessey said Granicus will search websites such as AirBnb and VRBO to locate short-term rentals, compiling a database to ensure no addresses are duplicated.

Once units are identified, Granicus will open a 24/7 hotline for residents living near short-term rentals to express concerns about renters and managers. Complaints sent in after hours will first go to Steamboat Springs Police Department officers, who will deal with any immediate safety or legal issue. If the complaint is not a public safety concern, code enforcement officers will work with Granicus staff to address the issue, and the complaint hotline will also notify the property manager.

Granicus will also conduct routine compliance checks to make sure every short-term rental listed online has a permit from the city.

“We have been talking about how we think we have anywhere from 3,500 to 4,000 short-term rentals,” Bessey said. “We can’t rely on that number, and we don’t know where they’re at, other than generally guessing.”

Property managers will be notified of noncompliance issues and may be required to respond in municipal court or evict renters, depending on the severity of the issue. Bessey said the enforcement details will have to be discussed by City Council, but property managers will be expected to respond in a certain window of time, and too many complaints could potentially lead to the revocation of a short-term rental license.

“What we’re hearing is that the community wants property managers to be responsible for their renters,” Bessey said.

The city currently has a “three-strikes-you’re-out” rule for vacation home rental managers, but Bessey said enforcement is difficult.

“I would think that will have maybe some improved enforcement procedures that go along with the licensing program,” Bessey said.

Police officers are frequently called to complaints of loud parties or trash piling up, but Bessey said it is almost impossible to decipher which of those complaints can be traced to short-term renters.

“Data is the main benefit (of hiring Granicus),” Bessey said.

While some community members have pointed to short-term rentals as a driver of Steamboat’s affordable housing crisis, many City Council members said the larger issue is how they affect the character of neighborhoods traditionally filled with local long-term renters and homeowners who work in the community and may be more likely to treat neighborhoods with respect.

“If you’re in a single-family neighborhood, and you had a cul de sac with five or six permanent residents on it, and all of a sudden, you’re getting new neighbors every night, that’s a concern,” said City Manager Gary Suiter. “All of a sudden they’re living in a neighborhood that looks more like a hotel.”

City Council will meet Tuesday to discuss short-term rental policies.

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