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Short-term rentals could be legal by summer

Posted: 6:28 PM, Apr 13, 2016
Updated: 2016-04-13 23:31:10-04

Short-term rentals through sites like Airbnb and VRBO are one step closer to becoming legal in Denver, after members of the city council’s Neighborhoods and Planning Committee voted 5-1 on Wednesday to approve an amendment to an ordinance allowing for licensing for short-term rentals.

The changes would apply only to homeowners or renters using their primary residence and with their landlord’s permission.

Homeowners would pay a yearly licensing fee as well as a lodging tax, and a special committee would be in charge of oversight and compliance.

“We’re hoping that this is the one that will work,” said Mary Beth Susman, the councilwoman behind the amendment who worked for two years on drafting the amendment.

The proposed changes will now go to a full council for consideration in a vote that could happen as early as June.

“We need to take care of those that are doing the best job they possibly can which is probably 95 percent,” said Carolyn Francis, who has been offering up rooms in her home through Airbnb for more than three years, “and then deal with the next 5 percent with what needs to be dealt with.”

Francis said she’s told her neighbors about her situation and so far hasn’t received any complaints.

She mostly rents out to students who stay for longer than one month, which is the time period limit considered as short-term.

She spoke during the committee meeting expressing her support of the amendment. However, not everyone is happy with the possible changes.

“I believe most people in Denver -- the overwhelming major[ity] -- bought their homes in residential neighborhoods because they want to live in a residential neighborhood and they would prefer it not turned into a hotel district,” said Thaddeus Tecza, who spoke against the amendment during Wednesday’s committee meeting.

Tecza said he wants the issue to be put up for a public vote instead of up for council to decide.

If approved, licenses for short-term rentals could be issued as early as July. Renters would then have a grace period to get everything in order by the end of this year.

After that, violators would be charged up to $999.00.

Frances hopes to be able to continue renting her rooms, this time with a license.

“I think if it becomes available in July I’ll do it right away,” she said, “I want to make sure I’m on the up and up.” 

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