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Justice with Jessica: Using your home as a short-term rental in Denver

The cost and rules to make an extra buck by renting out your property
Airbnb-Cleaning Policy
Posted at 8:53 AM, May 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-26 10:54:07-04

DENVER — More than 2,000 people in Denver are currently using their homes as short-term rentals to make some extra cash.

As the summer travel season picks up, more people may be interested in leasing out their homes for short periods of time on sites like Airbnb or VRBO.

In the city and county of Denver, potential short-term renters should be aware that opportunity to make an extra buck comes with costs and rules. If renters don't comply, they could be fined, or even lose their licenses.

In the city and county of Denver, “short-term rentals are residential properties available for rent for a period ranging from 1 to 29 days.”

You can only use your primary residence as a short-term rental in the city and county of Denver.

"We found that when renters have short term rentals, or it's a primary residence, they're more attentive to the property," Eric Escudero with the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, said. "We get less complaints from neighbors."

If your primary residence is owned by someone else, you need their permission to use the residence as a short-term rental.

Escudero says applicants have to get a Lodger's Tax I.D. and apply for a short term rental business license on the city's website.

"You pay the required fee, it's a total of $150," Escudero said.

He said many people wonder why there are so many rules.

"To prevent investors from buying up properties and offering them a short-term rentals, lowering housing supply, and raising the cost of living in Denver," Escudero said.

Samuel Harris has been in the short-term rental game since the pandemic. He wanted to travel safely.

"That's initially how I got started with Airbnb and short-term rentals," Harris said. "I was traveling and it was covering my rent while I was traveling."

Harris is now a property manager. He helps people navigate the nuance of short-term rental rules in Denver.

For example, hosts can determine the maximum number of guests that stay in the rental, but there’s a limit to what guests can do in the rental.

The Denver Zoning Code states that short-term rentals do not include the rental of a dwelling unit for commercial events. This includes parties or weddings.

It's unclear how many days of the year a Denverite can use their home as a short-term rental.

"A bunch of other hosts and property managers are trying to work with the city to get more concise regulation as to how many days homeowners can rent their home out for the year, because right now, it's unofficial," Harris said.

Harris added renting out the home for too many days could lead to license renewals being rejected.

If you're suspected of violating a short-term rental rule, you may have to go to a hearing. You could be subjected to fines of $999 per incident, or ultimately lose your license.

Despite the challenges, as of May 17 there were 2,568 active short-term rental licenses in the city and county of Denver.

Harris said the Denver metro keeps him busy as a property manager because people love to visit year-round.

"Denver is such an amazing place and has so much to do. And you have so much to see and do and there's so much to offer," he said.

Click here to access Denver short-term rental application.

Click here for frequently asked questions about short-term rentals in Denver.

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