County delays fining STRs to ensure accuracy
More updates coming soon to regulations
Due to accuracy concerns with the company the county uses to monitor short-term rentals, fines for noncompliant hosts won’t go out until the New Year.
Grand County short-term rental coordinator Christian Hornbaker told commissioners on Tuesday that 71 STR permits had been applied for this month. Host Compliance, the short-term rental compliance monitoring and enforcement company used by the county, says there are still 235 noncompliant short-term rentals in unincorporated Grand County.
But Hornbaker isn’t so sure that amount is correct.
“I don’t believe that that number is entirely accurately,” he said. “I’m waiting to hear why we’re not always getting accurate numbers.”
Another concern of Hornbaker’s is the fact that, despite using Host Compliance to issue warning letters to noncompliant short-term rentals in November, roughly 140 accounts still haven’t received that notification.
Earlier this month, commissioners directed Hornbaker to begin fining short-term rentals that remained noncompliant despite the warning letter. According to county regulations, after being issued a warning for a short-term rental violation, a second short-term rental infraction allows for a $500 fine, a third is a $1,000 fine and a fourth would be a one-year permit suspension.
Hornbaker requested the commissioner’s approval to hold off on sending out letters notifying noncompliant STR operators of the $500 fine until after Jan. 1 to ensure accuracy in the process. He added that, with approval from legal counsel, he also wanted to send an email directly from his county account so that people can communicate directly with him.
“For me, I’m just frustrated by this whole process and I think we’re going to be able to get everybody in compliance a lot quicker if we cover our tracks and cover Host Compliance’s tracks,” Hornbaker said.
Commissioners agreed to wait until the information could be more accurate, citing a concern about accidentally fining non-violators. The board unanimously agreed to delay the process to ensure accuracy.
Hornbaker added that he’s still waiting to hear back from Host Compliance about a number of issues and planned to set up a meeting if he didn’t get a response.
Hornbaker also got guidance from the commissioners to begin the process for adjusting some other short-term rental regulations.
Hornbaker wants to have all permits run from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, and prorate the annual fee based on when the operator gets the permit. For example, if someone gets a short-term rental permit in June, they only pay for half the fee as their permit only runs for six months.
Another regular issue with short-term rentals in the county is the fact that the listed local contacts for an operation aren’t always local. Hornbaker wants to update the regulations to make sure that all short-term rentals in unincorporated Grand have two contacts that live full-time in Grand County.
The update would crack down on the people not following those regulations to make it a clear violation, which would then go through the county’s violation process.
Hornbaker hopes to bring those changes to the planning commission’s January meeting. Because these would be amendments to the current regulations, it has to go through the county’s planning process.
The county is also hoping to hold a hearing in January to increase the fees for short-term rentals. Currently short-term rental operators pay an annual fee equal to $25 per occupant based on the maximum advertised occupancy.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.
Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.
If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.