Short-term rental hotline helps improve compliance as Summit County officials work through program hiccups
With over 8,700 short-term rentals in Summit County, it’s no surprise that local officials have taken steps to regulate common issues such as noise, trash and parking.
One of those steps was to contract with Host Compliance, a software company that manages short-term rental complaints through a hotline. Nearly all short-term rentals in Summit County are covered through the hotline with Breckenridge, Silverthorne, Dillon, Frisco and Summit County governments all signing contracts with the company.
The Host Compliance program started in Summit County largely as a way to enforce regulations brought on by town and county governments in 2018.
“Because we are such a huge short-term rental community, we want to make sure everyone is OK with it, so we can work together (and) make it profitable,” said Brandi Trimm, who manages the program at the county.
Since its introduction to Summit County, officials say Host Compliance has helped improve relationships between short-term rental owners and managers and their neighbors.
The hotline does this by having every short-term rental owner provide a number for a “responsible agent.” When a complaint is called into the hotline, the responsible agent is contacted by Host Compliance and given an hour to respond to the complaint, Summit County Planning Director April Kroner said.
According to Summit County data, there are 8,750 short-term rentals in Summit County. Unincorporated Summit County and Breckenridge hold the largest share of those rentals, with 3,793 in unincorporated Summit County and 3,813 in the town of Breckenridge.
Hotline data from all towns shows that the most common complaint to the hotline is around noise. Town of Breckenridge Finance Director Brian Waldes said the hotline has been especially useful in easing the burden of short-term rental noise complaints on local law enforcement.
“It shouldn’t be the job of the police,” Waldes said. “They have other things to do than go and tell people to quiet down. As one of our council members said, ’If I’m heading out at 6 in the morning to go skiing, and I see a bunch of trash on the lawn, I don’t want to call the cops. I want to call the owner of the property.’”
Although the hotline has been helpful, officials have struggled to work through some hiccups. In November 2019, Host Compliance bought the original hotline software called STR Helper. The transition after that acquisition hasn’t been the smoothest, officials said.
Kroner said one of the biggest issues with the software comes in the form of automated phone numbers. When a short-term rental owner provides an automated number as its responsible agent, the hotline number, which is also automated, isn’t able to reach a real person.
“We were running into some issues where the responsible agent wasn’t getting the calls right away when the issue was occurring,” Kroner said. “In that case, we from our Summit County Planning Department are doing that follow-up when our staff is in in the morning on a Monday. We’re not able to address it immediately.”
In addition to the automated phone number issue, town of Frisco Housing Coordinator Eva Henson said some property managers and owners weren’t picking up the call from Host Compliance because it was an unrecognizable number.
Both Henson and Kroner said Host Compliance has been helpful to them as they try to work through the issues. Both entities have asked property owners and managers to ensure their responsible agent number is a real person.
Additionally, Henson said the software company will be adding a text message alert so that property managers will get a text and a phone call when there is an issue at their short-term rental.
“Those are the kinds of things that take time to build with a software company,” Henson said. “Even though the system isn’t perfect, we’re certainly working through some of those limitations and trying to come up with solutions.”
The other issue with the hotline from a county perspective is the cost. While the towns are able to cover the cost of the hotline through short-term rental license fees, the county doesn’t have that ability.
Instead, the county has a permitting process for short-term rentals. While there are fees associated with the permit, they aren’t currently covering the entire cost of the software and the staff it takes to manage it, Kroner said.
“We weren’t certain exactly how much staff was going to be involved and how much time was going to be involved,” she said. “It’s taken more staff than we’ve anticipated.”
While both the county and Frisco plan to keep their contracts with Host Compliance, Silverthorne, Dillon and Breckenridge will be ending contracts with the service. Matt Farley, accounting coordinator with the town of Silverthorne, wrote in an email that “Host Compliance was unable to meet the town of Silverthorne’s requirements related to complaint response and resolution.”
All three towns will be switching to another short-term rental hotline company called Lodging Revs in the next month. Waldes said Lodging Revs already helps Breckenridge monitor short-term rental advertisements on websites like VRBO and Airbnb.
“We’re doing that because there’s advantages to having one company doing all of our compliance work,” he said. “Also we feel like Lodging Revs is going to be more responsive going forward.”
This story previously published in the January/February edition of Summit County Home magazine.
• Unincorporated Summit County: 970-486-1444 will be active on Friday, Jan. 15. The county’s current number 970-368-2044 will go away in 30 days. Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the new hotline number.
• Frisco: 970-432-8291
The towns that are switching to Lodging Revs will be using the following numbers:
• Silverthorne: 970-406-4499, starting Jan. 20
• Breckenridge: 970-423-5334, starting Feb. 1
• Dillon: 970-368-7482, starting Feb. 1
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User