Letter to the editor: Blaming the housing ‘crisis’ on short-term rentals is wrong

James Tuthill

In the Summit Daily News article about Gov. Polis signing bills addressing housing issues in Colorado, it says that the Governor said, “The short-term rental market directly impacts the residential market for long-term rentals, especially in Summit, Eagle and Routt counties.”  And it said, “The former Days Inn is emblematic of the larger housing crisis facing Colorado mountain towns, as short-term rentals occupy a greater percentage of housing inventory, pushing out long-term renters.” (Emphasis added).

But Summit Daily News, the governor and our county commissioners who make the same argument all reach a conclusion about which I haven’t read any persuasive support: that prospective long-term renters would be able to afford the rents of those now short-term rental units if they were converted to long-term rentals. Disclaimer: I am not a short-term lessor. 

What is your basis to conclude that a short-term rental unit going for say $150 or $200 a night would be affordable to those who need housing if it was converted to a long-term rental? And why do you all assume that if that housing unit wasn’t a short-term rental unit that the owner would lease it as a long-term rental at an affordable rate? 

For better or worse — depending on your point of view — Summit County, and other like areas-have become go-to destinations, and market demand has dramatically increased, raising prices across the board. But to blame short-term rentals for our housing “crisis” is missing the mark for the reasons I have stated. What I believe is needed is facilitating the construction of more affordable rental complexes.  The conversion of the Days Inn is moving in that direction. Expand on it. 

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