A ‘successful’ year of Lease to Locals leads to a renewal of the housing program
Rental caps will be required for landlords using the program after high rents priced out local workforce
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the number of employees housed through Lease to Locals.
Summit County’s Lease to Locals program launched in October 2021 and was recently approved to continue another year.
In just a year, the program has converted a total of 70 units from short-term to long-term rentals. So far, that has provided about 136 bedrooms for 153 residents in the county, 137 of which are employees who work for Summit County businesses.
Due to its high use, the program has been renewed for the next year,
“It really was a success,” Breckenridge housing manager Corrie Burr said. “It was a huge group effort with the town and the county to be able to launch it, and we are honestly incredibly thankful for the homeowners that believed in the program and joined in and moved from short-term to long-term renting to the local workforce.”
Lease to Locals started out as a six-month pilot experiment between the town of Breckenridge and Summit County. Its goal was to convert short-term rentals that already existed in both unincorporated Summit County and Breckenridge into long-term housing for locals.
Property owners who provided units could receive up to $20,000 per property depending on the number of rooms and the length of the lease, according to past reporting. Throughout the program’s 2021-2022 timeframe, about $915,500 of incentives were awarded.
This rounded out to an average incentive award of about $5,948 per bedroom and about $18,571 per unit, according to Summit County Government Communications Director, David Rossi.
The program is equally funded by Breckenridge and the county with $500,000 contributed by both. Rossi added that the program went over budget last year due to the program’s extension. However, adjustments were made, and $150,000 was pulled from the county’s affordable housing fund.
In March of this year, Breckenridge and the county decided to extend the program past the six-month mark due the success of the program. At the time, the program had converted 54 units and provided space for 57 local employees.
Colin Frolich, the founder and CEO of Landing Locals — the company who launched Lease to Locals in Summit — said Summit is the most successful location. Other tourist locations like Lake Tahoe host this program and still, Summit had the most use, Frolich said.
“The things that have made it really successful is — one — the housing supply,” Frolich said. “There’s short-term rentals that are right for conversion. The second is that we’ve got really good thought out program guidelines and incentive amounts that make it lucrative for short-term rental owners to convert.”
While the program was successful and it will be extended, there will be one adjustment to the program.
Burr said this year, there will be rental caps on converted units.
“There was feedback from the community that people were advertising that they wanted to rent their property and be part of the least locals but were also then charging a really high number that most locals in the community weren’t able to afford,” Burr said.
Burr added that many of those property owners, in the end, couldn’t find a local to rent to because of their steep pricing.
“So, the town and the county wanted to extend the program but needed to put some guardrails on it for maximum rent,” Burr said.
Therefore, for the upcoming winter season, property owners are required to cap their rents at $1,500 for a one bedroom or studio, $1,200 per room for two- to three-bedroom properties and $1,000 per room for four-bedroom properties.
Right now, the plan is to apply caps for the winter season. Frolich said, however, that rental caps will likely become a permanent requirement.
“We’ve already seen, you know, most owners are very understanding of that,” Frolich added. He also said that while homeowners could make more on the real-estate market, most realize the importance of renting to locals.
By the end of 2023, Burr said they hope to reach the same amount of conversions and local placements as they did in the past year. Frolich added that the budget will be an important priority moving forward to ensure Breckenridge and the county will not run out of money for incentives.
“We really do need to forecast out what we think we’ll spend and adjust the incentives accordingly,” Frolich said.
To sign up for the program, property owners have to submit an application, sign a lease with tenants who work at least 30 hours per week for an employer based in Summit and finally, participate in lease checks according to the news release.
“I think we were super impressed with the partnership between the town and the county and us and the way we’ve all gelled together to make this program a success,” Frolich said.
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