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Summit County continues to educate about and enforce public health orders affecting short-term rentals; generally finding compliance among owners
Contact: April Kroner, (970) 668-4207
SUMMIT COUNTY, CO – Summit County staff across multiple departments have been working diligently to both educate short-term rental owners, and enforce the public health order among STR’s and second-home owners. The public interest and concern around the topic of STR’s has been heard loudly by county administration. For several weeks, staff have been ramping up enforcement diligently in support of enforcing the public health order and community well-being.
Educating STR permit-holders about the public health order restrictions placed on short-term rentals was an immediate action made by Brandi Timm, the Planning Department staff person charged with administering the county’s short-term rental permitting program.
“Early educational efforts seem to have paid off,” said Timm. “Further investigation has found excellent compliance among STR permit holders and the County applauds owners for complying with the order for the health and safety of the community.” The following identifies the findings from staff investigation:
County staff has checked to verify the booking sites, such as Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, and others have been blocked out. Staff continue to verify adherence to this restriction, especially as the public health order was recently amended and extended.
Staff have spoken with hundreds of property managers, homeowners and booking sites to confirm compliance with the public health order.
Staff contacted 46 “vacation rental by owner” property owners via the VRBO platform to inquire if they were accepting bookings during the month of April. Of the 46 owners contacted, 40 responded that they were not accepting bookings. Some owners even went so far as to proactively discourage the inquirer from trying to visit Summit County, stating doing so was illegal and they could be fined.
With regards to enforcement, the public is encouraged to report suspected illegal short-term rental activity to the County.
“All complaints are processed, and a protocol established to effectively enforce the public health order, should a violation be suspected,” said Summit County Code Enforcement Officer, Tanya Shattuck. “If the property has a STR permit, we contact the owner to better understand and address the situation. If there is a violation, the permit holder faces revocation of their permit and is assessed fines, if applicable.”
In general, the County is finding STR permit-holders to be in compliance, but some second-home owners that do not short-term rent, may be in violation of public health orders by staying in their vacation property, or allowing family and friends to stay there.
“Because second-home owners are not necessarily STR permit-holders, staff does not typically have contact information to reach out to the property owner to assess what may be occurring,” said April Kroner, Planning Department Director. “Given the time-sensitive nature of responding to concerns during the ongoing pandemic, in these instances, the code enforcement officer, along with law enforcement, will visit the property and attempt to speak with the occupant. Direct contact with the occupant allows staff to educate property owners about the public health order, and that unless they are visiting for emergency purposes, visiting their second home is in violation of the order, and fines may be assessed.”
The County is working hard to ensure adherence to the public health order among short-term rentals and would like to thank owners for their diligent compliance. Staff will continue to educate the public and wants to assure the community that they are taking action to ensure violators of the public health order, including second homeowners (or their family) staying in their own property during this time, vacate the area.
To report a possible short-term rental violation, residents are encouraged to call the County’s short-term rental complaint hotline at 970-368-2044. Violations can total a fine of up to $5,000 and 18 months in jail, along with revocation of the STR permit.
To learn more about the about the Public Health Order, call (970) 668-9730, or send questions to COVIDQuestions@summitcountyco.gov.