Denver's Airbnb advisory committee met on Tuesday

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For those Denver Airbnb hosts (or VRBO hosts or short-term rental hosts of all stripes), I thought I'd leave a brief update here. I attended the Denver Short Term Rental Advisory Committee on Tuesday, and they had some more information about how compliance with and enforcement of the new Denver Airbnb law is going.

As background, the city council in June passed the new ordinance, which legalized certain short-term rentals but also prohibited anyone from using a second home or investment property to do STRs. The law goes into full effect Jan. 1, 2017. The advisory committee was set up to help implement the law.

Here are the highlights:

  • 80 to 85 licenses have been issued so far, a mere fraction of what are likely thousands of listings
  • 200 or so compliance letters have been sent to hosts
  • 2 inspectors will be dedicated to Airbnb compliance (though what exactly "dedicated" means is unclear)
  • a Short Term Rental Coordinator position has been created in the excise and licenses division

I am very interested to see how compliance with this law pans out. Portland passed a similar measure in early 2015, and as of August of this year, less than a quarter of hosts have complied.

Thanks for the update.  I was in Portland in September, and clearly the home I stayed in (airbnb) was someone's second or investment home...

So if one does not comply, what is the "punishment"? Also cost for license?


Hey @Diane Kruse . Good questions. The new law allows for up to a $999 fine per violation. A violation could be any number of things: You are renting out a room in your home without a license or you're renting out a home with a license, but the city finds out that it's not your primary residence. Technically they can fine you that $999 for violating any of those provisions.

The license costs $25. Before applying for that, you need to obtain a lodger's tax ID. I don't believe that costs anything but don't quote me on that.

And yes, Portland is having a terrible time wrangling their short-term rentals. I find this whole thing fascinating because it's a class fight between market forces and governmental control. Right now, it seems the market is winning. (Though, New York City with its recent announcement of $7,500 fines is doing its best to squash the supply side of that equation.)

Did Dever's law come about based on loss tax revenue from Airbnb? I saw an article that came out yesterday about Airbnb in NYC. Like @James Carlson mentioned, NYC passed a law with fines up to $7,500 for rentals lasting fewer than 30 days. 

Airbnb starting collecting and remitting taxes in New Orleans and LA. I am curious to see if this happens in NYC. If so, I think that could bode well for other cities to follow suit and thus not restricting short term rentals. 

Surprisingly, @Nick Moser , I don't think the hotels were the main driving force behind Denver's Airbnb law. Everything I heard at the meetings indicated that hotels wanted Airbnb hosts to play by some of the same rules -- i.e. pay lodger's tax and provide basic safety measures. But they were not anti-Airbnb in general. Their tepid resistance is likely due to record high occupancy rates at Denver hotels and record high hotel tax receipts pouring into the city's coffers. 

Really, I think it was the neighborhood associations who drove this change. If the townhall meetings were any indication, they were a minority voice -- but a very vocal one. I get their desire to not have their neighborhood turned into a commercial hotel zone, but I disagree with the extent to which Denver's law goes.

I think you're right about how Airbnb collecting taxes could short-circuit any subsequent attempts to restrict STRs. And Airbnb seems to recognize this as they have shifted their early total opposition to a more collaborative approach in recent years.

They started pulling the rug on Portland Airbnb's as well. The City is now doing 30 day cease and desist in some instances. Like someone mentioned, I really don't think it is the hotel industry lobbying, but more neighborhood and magazine-turned-vigilantes trolls that are looking to turn people in. And we even have a permit! No fine for 30 days then it jumps to $650, and then will double 30 days after that.

Hey @Neal Collins . That's really interesting. I remember reading that just after the new Airbnb law went into place in Portland, the compliance rate was less than 5 percent. Then I found a story from the Willamette Weekly in August that said it was under 25 percent, so it was obviously growing. The city's actions must be making a dent in that. Sorry to hear about your experience. Most people are ambivalent or at least partially interested short-term rentals. But some ... whew! ... some are angry! (I remember a guy from a neighborhood association standing up at one of the townhall meetings here and literally waving his finger in the face of the majority-host audience, saying, "You are bad people!)

Are you saying you're being fined for something even with a permit? If so, I hope you win any skirmish with the city and really hope you can bring any reluctant neighbors over to your see that you're not running a brothel or anything. As a side note, I've always struggled with whether it's best to notify neighbors of your intentions. It's either a good thing, seen as a courtesy. Or it's a bad thing, putting them on notice that they should start fighting you pre-emptively. 

Keep us up to date on what's going on with Portland and Airbnb. 

This is all really good information; thank you to everyone who has shared!  We, @Chavis Sabin and I, recently closed on our first property and are considering using the extra bedrooms for STR. We haven't yet registered with AirBnB or equivalent, but I am glad to be hearing about some of the legalese involved before running into any trouble. I'll dig into the local politics a lot more before we start renting anything out.

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