Breckenridge to revamp rules for short-term rentals
Updating the code
Outlined in a memo to Breckenridge Town Council, a summary of proposed revisions to the town’s rules and regulations regarding short-term rentals is as follows:
• Redefining “accommodation unit” to be consistent across town code.
• Requiring a local agent to respond to all property needs and complaints within one hour 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
• Creating a new administrative fee schedule to assist with offsetting the impacts of the short-term rental compliance program.
• Making the special conditions of licensure apply to all short-term rentals in town, not just single-family homes. This includes adhering to parking, trash, and noise regulations, and the addition of health and safety standards.
• When noncompliance is identified, a written warning will be issued first. If a property continues to have violations, a notice of hearing will be mailed by the town and owners/licensee will be subject to a hearing. Results of a hearing could result in suspension or revocation of license or fines.
• Requiring that all local and county laws are adhered to and all taxes are paid.
Source: Town of Breckenridge memo
As municipal governments across Summit County seek to impose new rules on short-term rentals, the town that’s been ahead of the curve, Breckenridge, is looking for an update.
Commonly referred to as “vacation rentals,” short-term rentals are a booming business that involves a homeowner renting out a furnished residence for a short period of time. Those condos, townhomes or single-family houses, could be listed on the popular lodging websites like Airbnb.com and VRBO.com.
In Breckenridge, short-term rentals are defined as any accommodation rented out for less than 30 consecutive days. In many ways, the town has been far out ahead of its Summit County peers, passing its first set of regulations a number of years ago.
Town officials feel like now’s the time to update the code. Proposed changes Breckenridge is now considering include a new fee schedule, requiring a local point of contact and measures designed to ensure safety and access for inspections, among other items.
“We’re not starting from scratch for sure,” said Leslie Fischer, the town’s accounting services manager, as she described the proposed update as “little tweaks” aimed at addressing real issues. She added, the town isn’t trying “to solve any problems that don’t exist.”
The new fee structure is designed to defray the town’s administrative cost and not generate any kind of profit, Fischer said. The proposed fees range from $25-$45 annually, starting with studio apartments and escalating by $5 increments based on the number of bedrooms inside a home up to four or more.
Fischer said the dollar figures will have to be adjusted before the proposed changes come to a vote in August. She expects the biggest shift in fees for the larger accommodations, which tend to generate the highest number of complaints and create the most work for town staff.
“We will have to bring back to council a revised fee structure, but we don’t want to have too much of an impact on the community, and we certainly wouldn’t charge more than it costs to implement the program,” she said.
Breckenridge is also looking at mandating all short-term rentals in town come with a local point of contact, or someone who can address complaints on site within a one-hour timeframe 24/7.
The proposed changes stem from an April work session of Breckenridge Town Council, and town staff went over some of them with the elected officials last week.
Following council’s discussions, a Breckenridge woman asked the elected officials to consider elongating the one-hour window to two hours.
She argued meeting the one-hour deadline would be difficult, if not impossible, for homeowners who rent out their properties without a property-management company but don’t live in Breckenridge.
If an owner lives in Silverthorne or Dillon — about a half-hour’s drive to Breckenridge — it would be an extremely tight turnaround to get on-site, the woman said. If that homeowner lives in Denver, meeting the one-hour deadline would be almost impossible, she added.
“Private property owners should not be forced to use a property-management company, which charges high commission fees and sometimes nickels and dimes you for changing a light bulb, etc.,” the woman told council.
Based on last week’s discussion, the biggest change in direction for town staff involved exempting condo-hotels from the ordinance pertaining to short-term rentals. These are properties like Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center.
While the condos at Beaver Run are individually owned, the resort maintains a front desk, keeps a main telephone line that connects to all the rooms and operates much like a regular hotel does.
Other topics for discussion mentioned in a memo to council include considering potential occupancy limits, capping the number of licenses and requiring all homes be owner-occupied or owned for a specific period of time before they can become a short-term rental. However, council didn’t appear ready to take any of those steps yet.
Town council is poised to vote on the new regulations on first reading Aug. 14, which would set up a likely second reading for Aug. 28. If passed, it wouldn’t the first time Breckenridge has revised its rules and procedures on the short-term rentals.
Last year, Breckenridge began requiring short-term rentals start posting their corresponding business license numbers with their advertisements to help the town identify renters who might not be complying with town code or failing to turnover the proper taxes. Meanwhile, Frisco, Dillon, Silverthorne and Summit County are also looking at new rules on short-term rentals.
Speaking over the phone, Fischer acknowledged Breckenridge has a major problem maintaining options for long-term housing. She said the town’s looking to incentivize long-term rentals. However, those incentives, whatever they could be, should come before council at a later date.
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