Denver cracking down on unlicensed short-term rentals

Our Colorado: City cracking down on rentals

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DENVER -- As travelers become more and more familiar with short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO, the City of Denver is cracking down on homeowners who don’t play by the rules.

"Denver is not anti-short-term rentals,” said Eric Escudero with the City of Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses. “We're just making sure you get a license, you follow the rules and we can make sure you're not creating a nuisance for your neighbors."

Denver’s city ordinance states that you must prove the property you are renting is your primary residence, not an investment property you are running like a hotel.

“Because these aren’t hotels,” said Escudero. “They are in the middle of residential neighborhoods. It’s not like a hotel or a motel where the sign right out front identifies that it's a place to stay."

Some neighbors say some listings are a revolving door, one guest after another. While there are no caps in terms of how many times you can rent out your home per year, Escudero underscores it must be your primary residence. If it’s not, you could be fined and in some cases, charged criminally.

“We want to make sure that they're operating safely and paying the taxes that are required," Escudero said.

Another big reason for the ordinance is the affordable housing crisis. If investors continue gobbling up homes for short-term rentals, it depletes inventory and pushes up rent prices city-wide.

At the moment, there are 2,063 licensed short-term rentals in Denver, but there are suspected to be hundreds, if not thousands more, that are unlicensed.

Escudero said new software allows the city to constantly scan more than 50 websites daily for short-term rentals offered in Denver.

It identifies, stores and flags properties for possible enforcement action if the listing looks suspect in any way.

“We have to have safeguards in place,” Escudero said. “But we welcome short-term rentals as long as they follow the rules.”

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