March 20, 2024

Airbnb & Short Term Rental Laws and Regulations In Denver - 2024

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Overview of Denver Short-Term Rental Market

Denver's short-term rental market is a significant component of the city's tourism economy. Properties are commonly listed on platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo, offering travelers alternative accommodations to traditional hotels and motels. These rentals cater to a diverse group of visitors who come to experience Denver's vibrant city life and the natural beauty of the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.

  • Occupancy Rates: Rentals in Denver show an average occupancy rate of 37%, with variances depending on location and season.
  • Average Daily Rate: The going daily rate for a short-term rental hovers around $125.
  • Monthly Revenue: Property owners stand to gain an average of $12,249 in monthly revenue from their short-term rentals.

Recent statistics reflect a dynamic market with its potential for growth as well as challenges faced by regulations. Denver's regulatory landscape necessitates that rental owners obtain proper licensing to ensure compliance with local laws, which aim to balance the needs of residents with those of the rental industry. The city has also witnessed a recovery in its short-term rental industry, albeit not at pre-pandemic levels.

The influx of travelers often peaks during ski season and summer months, as tourists flock to the city and its surroundings for leisure and adventure. This seasonal pattern can influence both demand and profitability for short-term rental owners in the region.

Legal Framework for Short-Term Rentals in Denver

In Denver, the operation of short-term rentals falls under local regulations established to balance the benefits of tourism with community impact. The Denver City Council enacted an ordinance in 2016 that outlines the legal requirements for property owners who wish to rent their properties on platforms like Airbnb.

All short-term rental hosts must obtain a business license specific to this purpose. This process includes securing a Lodger's Tax ID and registering with Denver's Permitting and Licensing Center. The city regulations also require that these rentals must be the owner's primary residence, effectively prohibiting the listing of non-owner-occupied properties for short-term rental.

Legislation in the State of Colorado caps the application fees for such licenses at $150, and Denver has instituted an annual renewal fee of $100, as stated in an update on Colorado Airbnb and Short Term Rental Regulations.

The fee structure for the rental licensing includes an application fee of up to $150 for initial applications and an annual renewal fee of $100 thereafter.

In addition to licensing fees, short-term rental operators in Denver are responsible for remitting local taxes. These include a city lodger’s tax and a city sales tax, the percentages of which are subject to change but are clearly stipulated in the legal framework.

Denver's approach to enforcement includes fines for non-compliance and revoking the licenses of repeat offenders. The local ordinances are backed by thorough follow-up to ensure adherence to regulations, maintaining the integrity of Denver's neighborhoods while allowing for the economic activity generated by short-term rentals.

Licensing Requirements for Short-Term Rentals in Denver

In Denver, securing the proper licenses is critical for operating compliant short-term rentals. This section outlines the pivotal steps and considerations property owners must navigate to obtain and maintain their rental licenses.

Applying for a Short-Term Rental License

To apply for a short-term rental license in Denver, property owners must submit an application to the Department of Excise and Licenses. The required documents typically include proof of ownership or a lease agreement, a valid government-issued ID, and an affidavit of primary residence. They must also demonstrate that they comply with local regulations, like safety codes.

Business License Considerations

Aside from the short-term rental license, property owners may also need a business license from the Colorado Department of Revenue. This is particularly relevant if the rental is managed as a business entity. Regulations call for details of the operational structure and proof of tax compliance.

Renewal Process and Fees

The permit to operate a short-term rental in Denver must be renewed annually. The renewal process involves confirming the continued accuracy of the original application information and paying the necessary licensing fees. Failure to renew on time could result in penalties or loss of the license to operate.

Ownership and Zoning Regulations in Denver

In Denver, Colorado, local governments enforce specific ownership and zoning regulations to manage short-term rental properties. These rules play a critical role in preserving community standards and ensuring compliance within the short-term rental market.

Primary Residence Requirement

The regulations in Denver stipulate that for a property to be listed as a short-term rental, it must be the owner's primary residence. This means that the property should be occupied by the owner for more than half the year, typically evidenced by voter registration or a driver's license address.

Zoning Laws Affecting Properties

Zoning laws dictate where short-term rentals can legally operate. In Denver, different zones are designated for residential or commercial use, and it's imperative that Airbnb listings adhere to these zoning restrictions. Properties that fall outside the appropriate zones may face penalties or be disallowed from hosting short-term rentals entirely.

Non-Owner-Occupied Properties

Properties that are not the owner's primary residence, also known as non-owner-occupied properties, are generally not permitted to function as short-term rentals in Denver. This rule aims to prevent commercial operators from buying up residential homes strictly for use as short-term rental investments.

Tax Obligations for Short-Term Rentals in Denver

Owners of short-term rentals in Denver, Colorado, are subject to specific tax obligations. They must navigate a combination of state and local regulations. Here's a clear outline of what proprietors need to consider for compliance:

  • Lodger’s Tax: Short-term rental hosts in Denver are required to collect a 10.75% lodger’s tax from their guests. The tax applies to any rental period of fewer than 30 days.
  • Sales Tax: In addition to the lodger's tax, hosts are also responsible for collecting Colorado sales tax, currently at 4.0%, plus Denver sales tax at 4.81%.
  • Licensing and Filing: Hosts must obtain a business license and a lodger's tax license. They need to file regular tax returns, usually quarterly, to pay the collected taxes to the City of Denver and the State of Colorado.
  • Vacation Rental Tax Deductions: It's important for hosts to be aware of potential tax deductions related to short-term rental operations, such as property maintenance, utilities, and supply costs.
  • Property Tax: Rental income from short-term rentals can influence property tax assessments. Hosts should ensure they account for this in their financial planning.

The key tax rates and obligations applicable to short-term rentals include a lodger's tax of 10.75% imposed by the City of Denver, a state sales tax of 4.0% levied by the State of Colorado, and a local sales tax of 4.81% imposed by the City of Denver.

Short-term rental owners should maintain accurate records and keep abreast of any tax law changes to remain compliant with all sales and lodging tax requirements in Denver.

Safety and Compliance Standards in Denver

When renting out a property on Airbnb in Denver, hosts are required to meet stringent safety and compliance standards to ensure guest safety and limit liability. Adherence to these standards is critical for the protection of both the guest and the host.

Safety Equipment

Every short-term rental property in Denver must be equipped with essential safety devices. These include:

  • Smoke Detectors: Installed in accordance with Denver's safety regulations, smoke detectors should be present on every floor of the rental property, including bedrooms and living areas.
  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Colorado law mandates that carbon monoxide detectors be located within 15 feet of sleeping areas in homes that contain fuel-burning appliances or attached garages.
  • Fire Extinguishers: A fire extinguisher must be easily accessible in the property, preferably in the kitchen, to deal with any potential fire hazards.

Hosts should regularly check that all safety equipment is functional and not past its expiration date to mitigate safety risks and ensure compliance with Denver and Colorado safety regulations.

Insurance and Liability

Property owners are advised to obtain adequate insurance coverage that extends to short-term rentals. Key aspects include:

  • Liability Insurance: This coverage is vital to protect against claims of negligence that may arise if a guest were to experience injury due to hazards or defects on the property.
  • Colorado Premises Liability Laws: These laws state that property owners may be held responsible for injuries to visitors caused by the owner's failure to address potential dangers.

Holding a robust insurance policy, particularly designed for short-term rentals, helps defend against these liabilities and ensures that both the property owner and guests are covered in case of accidents. It is the host's responsibility to understand the extent of their insurance policy and how it interacts with the Colorado Premises Liability Laws to ensure all safety and compliance standards are met.

Penalties for Non-Compliance in Denver

In Denver, Colorado, short-term rental hosts and platforms face various penalties if they fail to comply with the local regulations.

Enforcement Measures:

  • Host Penalties: Hosts operating unlicensed short-term rentals may be subjected to fines. The specific amounts can vary based on the nature and frequency of the violations.
  • Platform Penalties: Online platforms like Airbnb are required to enforce these local laws by not allowing unlicensed listings. Failure to comply may result in steep fines for the platform itself.

Fines for Non-Compliance:

  • Daily Fines: The city is known to have previously imposed a fine of up to $1,000 per day for non-compliant booking websites.
  • Legal Actions: Persistent non-compliance can lead to a lawsuit from the city against both hosts and platforms.

Compliance Rate:

  • The license compliance rate across all short-term rental companies is reported to be around 90%.

The local governments are continually adapting the legal landscape to better regulate short-term rentals. Compliance with the regulations safeguards both the interests of the local communities and the hosts themselves. Denver's approach to regulation and the enforcement thereof aims to balance the booming market with neighborhood stability and safety.

Impact of Short-Term Rentals on Local Housing in Denver

In Denver, the rapid proliferation of short-term rentals (STRs) facilitated by platforms like Airbnb has sparked a debate on their influence on the local housing market. Denver's housing crisis is characterized by a tight supply of affordable homes, compounding the challenge of housing affordability. The infusion of STRs within residential areas is altering the dynamics of property availability.

Affordable housing advocates argue that STRs reduce the long-term housing stock crucial for permanent residents. Properties that might otherwise be leased to long-term tenants are instead made available for short-term visitors. This has a trickle-down effect where fewer available properties for residents can drive up rental costs. An analysis of the situation suggests that restrictions on Airbnb rentals might mitigate the pressures on the development of new housing estates.

Conversely, some stakeholders in Colorado assert that the economic benefits from STRs—such as tax revenues and tourism growth—offer a counterbalance to the housing issues. For instance, Colorado’s economic impact report indicates significant fiscal contributions from STRs to local economies.

Denver has implemented local requirements aimed at steadying the housing landscape. Homeowners looking to rent out their properties on a short-term basis must adhere to these regulations, which are designed to preserve housing for local residents while permitting some degree of home-sharing.

Short-term rental regulations in Denver mandate that properties listed for short-term rental (STR) purposes must serve as the owner's primary residence. Homeowners engaging in STR activities are required to obtain a business license. Additionally, earnings from STRs are subject to taxation, contributing to public revenues in the city.

These regulations aim at balancing the benefits of STRs with the necessity to keep properties accessible and affordable for Denver inhabitants.

Contact Information for Denver Regulatory Bodies

When seeking assistance or information regarding Airbnb and short-term rental laws and regulations in Denver, it is essential to reach out to the appropriate regulatory bodies. Below is a list of contacts for various departments and officials in charge of overseeing and enforcing these regulations:

The Department of Excise and Licenses in Denver manages the licensing procedures for short-term rentals. For inquiries regarding application processes or regulatory compliance, individuals can contact the department via phone at (720) 865-2740 or email at

The Denver City Council holds responsibility for legislation pertaining to land use and zoning that impacts short-term rentals within the city. For any legislative inquiries or concerns regarding these matters, they can be reached by phone at (720) 337-2000 or through their website at the Denver City Council page.

The Board of County Commissioners handles county-level regulations that affect short-term rentals throughout the State of Colorado. For information regarding these regulations, individuals can find details on the Board of County Commissioners' webpage.

Eric Escudero serves as the Director of Communications for the Department of Excise and Licenses, making him a key contact for information regarding Denver's stance and any updates concerning short-term rental regulations.

For statewide regulations that may impact short-term rentals, individuals can refer to the State of Colorado's website to access and review the relevant State Regulations.

For detailed inquiries and up-to-date information, individuals are encouraged to reach out directly to these bodies using the provided contact information.

Common Challenges and Solutions in Denver

In Denver, Airbnb and short-term rental hosts encounter various challenges. This section elucidates on these issues, highlighting effective strategies for managing bookings and navigating legal considerations.

Managing Bookings and Guests

When running a short-term rental business, efficient management of bookings and guests is crucial. Hosts must ensure their properties are listed accurately on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO to avoid miscommunication with potential guests. Maintenance and cleaning fees should be transparent, and a clear system for calculating these costs can prevent disputes. During the pandemic, heightened cleaning protocols became essential and continue to matter to guests. The use of third-party booking service providers may streamline reservation management and enhance guest communication ensuring that hosts meet the high occupancy rates that Denver is known for, standing at an average of 82%.

Handling Legal Disputes and Liabilities

Legal disputes and liabilities present another challenge for short-term rental operators. It's important for them to stay apprised of legal changes, like those in Denver where strict regulations are in place. A primary example is the necessity for a rental to be the host's primary residence to curb illegal hotels. When legal issues arise, collecting evidence and thorough record-keeping can be instrumental in resolving disputes. Hosts may be held liable in the event of an accident, hence the importance of having comprehensive insurance coverage. Business operators need to be cognizant of local regulations as legislators in Denver may impose different tax obligations, including state sales tax at 2.9% and a variable local sales tax.

Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating the legalities of short-term rentals can be challenging for Denver property owners. This section addresses common queries regarding the local laws and processes to ensure compliance.

What are the requirements for obtaining a short-term rental license in Denver?

Property owners must acquire a lodger's tax ID from the Treasury Department and create an account with Denver's Permitting and Licensing Center to obtain a short-term rental license. All short-term rentals must be the host's primary residence, and various documents are likely required to prove compliance with this regulation.

Can you explain the process for renewing a Denver Short-Term Rental license?

Renewal of a short-term rental license in Denver does not incur a fee if the permit was not previously revoked or suspended. The permit must be renewed annually and the process typically involves confirming that the property is still the host's primary residence.

What specific regulations govern Airbnb operations in Denver?

Denver's regulations stipulate that all short-term rentals must be the host's primary residence, and the rental period must not exceed 30 non-consecutive days. Key features of Denver's regulations include licensing requirements and adherence to lodger's tax collection protocols.

Is a permit required to list a property on Airbnb in the state of Colorado?

In Colorado, permit requirements for listing a short-term rental property like those on Airbnb may vary by locality, but a permit is typically required.

How does Denver define a short-term rental property?

Denver defines a short-term rental property as a residential dwelling that is rented wholly or partially for less than 30 consecutive days at a time and that the rental entity must be the host's primary residence.

In which Colorado cities are Airbnb and other short-term rentals legally permitted?

Airbnb and other short-term rentals are allowed in various Colorado cities, but local laws differ widely. While Denver permits short-term rentals, they must comply with specific laws, such as being the host's primary residence and meeting licensing and taxation standards.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not serve as legal, financial, or tax advice. Consult your own legal, financial, or tax advisor for matters mentioned here. The information on this site is general in nature. Any description of coverage is necessarily simplified. Whether a particular loss is covered depends on the specific facts and the provisions, exclusions and limits of the actual policy. Nothing on this site alters the terms or conditions of any of our policies. You should read the policy for a complete description of coverage. Coverage options, limits, discounts, deductibles and other features are subject to individuals meeting our underwriting criteria and state availability. Not all features available in all states. Discounts may not apply to all coverages. Steadily is not liable for any actions taken based on this information. If you believe any of this information may be inaccurate please contact us.

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