Vacation rental permit numbers rising in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Vacation rental permit numbers rising in Steamboat

A map on Airbnb shows properties that are available in Steamboat Springs around the Christmas holiday.

Vacation rentals have been in the news a lot recently in Steamboat Springs.

The City Council briefly talked about imposing a new tax or fee on them before backing off of the idea in January due, in part, to potential legal hurdles.

And, the latest city council candidate declared earlier this week he thinks the city should look into possibly shutting down Airbnb and VRBO rentals in residential neighborhoods due to their impact on the rental market for local workers.

So, what does the vacation rental market look like today in Steamboat?

Code Enforcement Officer Barb Wheeler on Thursday tallied up 152 active permits for vacation rental properties, including five that are currently in the review process.

That’s up significantly from summer 2014, when the city had about 108 active permits.

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The properties in need of permits for short-term rentals include duplexes and single-family homes.

The city has received 17 new applications for such permits so far this year.

The five currently in the pipeline are in all parts of the city, spanning from downtown to the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

What about condos and apartments?

The scope of the vacation rental market in those types of units is more difficult to discern.

Condo owners in Steamboat don't need permits to rent their properties on a short-term basis, but they are required to have a sales tax licenses to collect and remit the city sales and lodging taxes.

The city does not track the total number of sales tax licenses pulled for the purpose of short-term apartment rentals, in part, because they change hands so often, and many are held by property management companies.

Even if the city had numbers for all of the properties with sales tax permits and vacation rental permits, it would likely fall short of what is actually occurring.

That’s because, in the past, the city has caught some homeowners listing their properties for short-term rentals online without the proper license.

And, fire up Airbnb, and it's easy to see the scope of the vacation rental market goes well beyond those 152 permits held by single-family home and duplex owners.

During Christmas week in Steamboat, there are more than 300 listings in the Steamboat area.

Only 24 of the listings are for single rooms, while most are for an entire unit or home.

The average price for a single room on Airbnb for the Christmas week time period was $125 per night on Thursday.

Has the vacation rental industry been generating a lot of complaints in the community?

Wheeler, who has years of experience permitting and monitoring the industry for the city, says it has not.

"I have not had any enforcement issues in the last two years," she said. "I don't know if they're dealing with it themselves. They're not calling the police, that I'm aware of."

Property management companies handle many of the listings, and neighbors are given their numbers to call if there are any issues.

Wheeler noted when single-family home and duplex owners do apply for a permit, some neighbors will respond saying they don't want them in their neighborhoods.

"They'll say parking is going to become an issue, and the bears are going to get into their trash. Basically they don't want them in their neighborhood," she said.

Wheeler said the most common reason for a vacation rental permit denial is a shared driveway to the property, combined with a neighbor who does not want the permit approved.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

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