Summit County housing department lays out plans for short-term rental conversion program
Housing Director Jason Dietz said he and his team hope to roll out the program by Oct. 15
Summit County is moving forward with a short-term rental conversion program in an effort to increase the number of long-term rental units available in the county.
The program was first proposed back in June when Summit County Housing Director Jason Dietz laid out a comprehensive list of short-, mid- and long-term strategies to increase the number of affordable housing units in Summit County. One such strategy proposed a program where owners of short-term rentals would transition their units into long-term housing for local residents.
“Opportunity zones,“ or neighborhoods that are traditionally occupied by the local workforce, would be identified as part of the program. The idea raised eyebrows, and as the county’s housing department worked on a plan to bring the program to life, both residents of these zones and leaders from the property management industry weighed in with their thoughts on the idea.
This all came to a head on Tuesday, Sept. 28, during a Summit Board of County Commissioners’ work session meeting when Dietz laid out the program’s preliminary details. These details are not yet solidified, but Dietz and his team said they’d like to officially roll out the program on Oct. 15, giving them just over two weeks to make any tweaks. Right now, the program only applies to units in unincorporated Summit County, though Dietz said the town of Breckenridge is looking to partner on this program.
Here’s what they have so far.
For homeowners to be eligible to participate, Dietz’s presentation said that they must complete an application with the housing department. In addition:
- Their home must be located within unincorporated Summit County.
- The home must be a legally permitted short-term rental unit, and it must be in good standing.
- The applicant must be the owner of the property or legally represent the owner or ownership group.
- The owner must have a signed lease agreement with the qualified tenants.
- The owner must comply with midway and final lease checks to ensure they are in compliance. If they are found out of compliance, they may be disqualified from receiving additional incentive payments.
- Homeowners renting out a bedroom in their home must commit to renting out their space for a minimum of six months.
Property management criteria
Homeowners and property managers have similar requirements. Property managers must complete an application on the owner’s behalf or be listed on the application as the property manager.
To be an eligible tenant taking advantage of this program, individuals must complete an employment verification form showing that they work in Summit County. The homeowner or property manager sends this form to the housing department. Other requirements include:
- At least one tenant must be working at least 30 hours per week for an employer based in Summit County.
- Each adult applicant must submit a copy of their driver’s license or other government issued photo ID, two of their most recent pay stubs for all jobs, and verification of employment, such as an offer letter.
- Individuals who are self-employed must provide products or services specifically within Summit County.
To help spread the word, Dietz said the Summit Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers will be partnering with the county and marketing the program to its members. Dietz said that based on early estimates from the organizations’ president, Toby Babich, about 80 to 100 units from the organization’s membership group could be converted.
The program will last roughly six months — through the majority of the ski season. Once concluded, Dietz said he and his team will regroup to work out the program’s growing pains in time for the summer season.
To identify these program specifics, Dietz’s team sent out a survey to certain neighborhoods, which had a 45% response rate. Through this survey, the housing department was able to gather data such as how much profit short-term rental owners are making, how often they use their units each year and how long they’d like a lease to be. Overwhelmingly, the response was that most owners were comfortable with a three-month lease.
In addition, roughly 100 of the respondents reported that they’d like to see more information about this program once it’s finalized.
Summit Community Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence noted that the program roll out will be right before the holiday season. She asked Dietz if he was concerned about this factor inhibiting its success. Dietz agreed that it would have been ideal for his team to roll out the program in the summer, but a short turnaround time meant this wasn’t feasible. Nevertheless, he said he believes the partnership with the Summit Alliance will prove strategic in the program’s initial success.
“The reason why I think the property managers will play an important role is because in most cases, they have the ability to move rooms,” Dietz said. “Let’s say they have 100 different units and someone books into one of the units that may not be the best short-term rental, they have the ability to move that rental into a different unit comparable to the size — just a comparable unit — and open it up to free some existing units.”
Dietz said the county does not have the bandwidth to manage the program, and neither does the Summit Combined Housing Authority, nor the Family & Intercultural Resource Center. Instead, Dietz said Landing Locals, a real estate agency based out of Truckee, California, would be in charge. This was a point of concern for Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue.
“I’m comfortable with the general direction,” Pogue said. “My concern though is it’s really important that this program is successful, so I am concerned about Landing Locals’ capacity. I’m just concerned about how we have enough capacity in the system to really support this program to make it successful, because the last thing I’d want to see is it’s not successful and we do the postmortem and we miss something.”
Lawrence’s concerns were about the marketing of the program.
“I’m probably more concerned with how we let people know we’re doing this and what’s the marketing aspect of it,” Lawrence asked. “There’s got to be a lot of pizzazz behind that to get people to even consider it.”
Dietz acknowledged Pogue’s concerns and noted that they were limited on what entity had capacity to operate the program. As for the program’s success, Dietz said he expected a “tidal wave” of movement and that the county would likely spend its entire budget on the program before year’s end.
It’s expected that Dietz’s team will continue to move forward with the program and finalize the details in the coming weeks.
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