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Boulder's AirBnB Debate is Put to Bed

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If you have an AirBnB or other such Vacation Rental By Owner, and you live in Boulder, you are in luck. On November 3, 2015 Boulder approved a tax on short term housing rentals. How is approving a tax lucky, you might ask? Since it was either impose a tax on all short-term rentals or do away with AirBnB’s altogether, many residents are thankful that the tax passed.

The main rules you need to know in the new Boulder short-term rental program are:

  • Short-term rentals are only allowed if the home is the owner’s principal home of residence proven by being the address where they are registered to vote, where their vehicle is registered, etc.
  • The owner must be a real person, not a corporation or business entity.
  • There is no limit on the amount of days the owner can rent the room, however if the owner is renting a stand alone accessory unit on the property, such as a carriage house, it can only be rented for a total of 120 days per year.
  • The owner can only rent the accessory unit OR their home/room in their home, but not both.
  • If renting an accessory unit it must be deemed legal to rent by obtaining a long-term rental license and passing the required inspection including having working smoke detectors, carbon-monoxide detectors, and other safety requirements.
  • Short-term rentals will have to comply with the SmartRegs program that the city will begin implementing in January 2016 unless it is an attached accessory unit.
  • The owner will need to provide the city as well as the guests a telephone number of either themselves or a contact person who can be at the property within one hour.
  • The home cannot be part of the city’s permanently affordable housing program. 
  • Short-term rentals will be taxed 7 ½% on any unit rented for 30 days or less in order to fund administration, enforcement, and other reasonable expenses acquired by the city’s short-term rental program.

Go HERE to read in full the Ordinance proposed on the ballot and voted in on November 3, 2015.

Benjamin Buren is a Boulder home-owner and an AirBnB lessor. He used to stress every month about paying his mortgage, originally renting his spare room to a long-term roommate in order to help with expenses. However he wanted a situation with more flexibility to allow space when his daughter visited, as she periodically did. AirBnB-ing turned out to be the perfect option as the room could be free when he needed it for his daughter, and rentable when he didn’t.

Though at first nervous about having people he didn’t know in his house, he found that 99% of AirBnB renters are more respectful of his home than a live-in roommate. Plus, since AirBnB is based on a rating system he has the option to simply not rent to people with low ratings. His unit is occupied at least 75% of the time.

The only frustration Benjamin has is with the tax itself, but only because he felt it was a strong-arm tactic. Having been written into the proposal stating that if the tax did not pass, none of the other options for short term rentals would either, he is nonetheless thankful that he can now legally rent out his place at leisure. He believes short term rentals are a positive, and has met many great new people through the AirBnB venture. He also believes it encourages AirBnB lessors to make home improvements, therefore upping the value of the home and the neighborhood, while providing the extra income to do so. Overall he sees AirBnB as a winning option to help lower stress and increase income, and with the homeownership prices in Boulder continuing to rise who wouldn’t want that option as a buffer when buying a home?

Now is the time to consider that extra room when searching for your next home. It is a boon now legally available that could help you afford your Boulder abode. Contact one of our brokers to help you find your next dwelling that can provide additional income as well as a comfy place to house your family. It’s now one more way to help you live in what we think is the best city in the nation.

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