Property managers discuss short-term rental problems
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Police Chief Rick Holman met with property management companies Friday afternoon to brainstorm ideas to alleviate problems between short-term renters and year-round neighbors.
The town council earlier this month approved an ordinance on first reading regarding the problems, which primarily surround the issues of noise, trash and illegal parking. The ordinance was approved pending changes management company representatives want to make to the penalty phase of the proposal, part of which indicates that a third offense would require the homeowners to forego their Breckenridge Occupational Lodging Tax (BOLT) license.
Property managers said Friday they’d rather have a third-time offender face a hearing, perhaps with the town council, to present their side of the story, much as liquor license holders do when their operations come into question. They also agreed homeowners could attend mediation in lieu of a hearing to come to agreement regarding problems.
Town officials hope to redraft the penalty section of the ordinance before it goes back before the council Aug. 13. At that point, town council might approve the ordinance with the proposed changes, or vote to continue the item to collect more information.
They also want to find a way to find people who skip out on BOLT taxes – an action that could be considered tax fraud, Holman said.
All those intending to do business in town are required to obtain a BOLT license. But many short-term rental owners choose not to hire a property management company and instead advertise their homes on the Internet – and avoid paying the BOLT taxes, which, for short-term rentals, range from $25 to $175 a year, depending on the size of the house.
That’s where many problems arise, management company owners said in discussion with town officials this month. Homes – particularly large trophy homes – sometimes are advertised as being able to sleep up to 30, which in most cases would be in violation of the town’s building code. But police don’t always know how to reach owners when a problem arises, and some homeowners are never made aware such problems are taking place.
“If this wasn’t a quality-of-life issue, it wouldn’t be coming up all over the nation,” Holman said. “It’s no longer the phone call from the neighbor complaining about the guy across the street who’s running a body shop out of his garage.”
The eight property management representatives who attended the meeting Friday agreed there might be better ways to head off problems before making a phone call to police.
Among them is education: sending a new homeowner a packet of information addressing town ordinances regarding rental homes, noise, trash and the number of people allowed to stay in any given unit; sending a contract to renters outlining the same rules; posting rules in the house; strengthening rules regarding security deposits and requiring management firms to notify the town when they obtain a new short-term rental client.
The measures aren’t designed to keep a tight rein on management companies, Holman said, although some people say it could make it more difficult to do business in town. Holman reminded attendees, if police know how to reach a homeowner, they also can get information to them more efficiently.
Others suggested year-round neighbors confront their homeowners associations instead of the town.
“These people can change their bylaws,” said John Koenig of Summit Mountain Rentals. “That’s the forum they need to go to. This is not a town issue.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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