County talks short-term rental enforcement after properties found to be in violation |

County talks short-term rental enforcement after properties found to be in violation

While short-term rentals continue to be a local point of contention, county officials last week dug into a related issue that could prove even more contentious: enforcement of short-term rental regulations.

While most of the contention surrounding short-term rentals previously focused on the overall concept of regulation itself, or the permit fees charged to the property owners, county commissioners at their regular meeting Tuesday discussed the topic of enforcement.

Discussion on regulations stemmed from county officials preparing to issue a court summons to one short-term rental property owner who had failed to register with the county. Potential court action was halted, however, after county staff contacted the property owner, who then underwent the registration process.

Failure to register as a short-term rental property does not immediately result in a court summons. The county currently employs a multi-step process meant to bring properties into compliance before issuing a court summons. That process begins with a first letter of notification followed by a 15-day waiting period. The next step is a notice of violation letter, which is followed by a 10-day waiting period. If a short-term rental owner has still failed to register at that point, the issue is turned over to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.

Richard Liberali handles short-term rental enforcement efforts for the sheriff’s department. Once Liberali has a case in hand he attempts to contact the owner directly, to speak in person.

“The big problem is getting the appropriate valid contact information,” Liberali said. “If I can talk to them, I can get them to comply.”

Liberali noted that the property in question is located near Silver Sage Road, near Granby. According to Liberali, the property owner incorrectly believed her property was located within the town of Granby, rather than unincorporated Grand County. She had simply been ignoring violation notifications sent from the county.

“The object of the game is to get the money and get them into compliance,” Liberali said. “It is not to be heavy handed or draconian in our methods.”

County Commissioner Rich Cimino said he was relieved that the property owner had become compliant with county regulations before reaching the point of court proceedings. He called court action for short-term rental violations a “red line.”

“The ‘red line,’ we will cross it at some point,” Cimino said. “There are a lot of parties that oppose all of this, that would rather we have zero policy at all regarding short-term rentals. Sending someone to court could be quite a political rallying cry.”

County staff noted there is still one outstanding registration violation, which was turned over to Liberali earlier this month.

“My fingers are crossed that resolution will come through as the others did,” Cimino commented.

In May 2017, the Grand County Board of Commissioners approved a new regulatory regime for short-term rentals that are located within unincorporated Grand County. This June, the commissioners approved changes to the fee structure, making them assessed on their lodging accommodations.

The move to regulate short-term rentals, both initially and more recently, faced significant opposition from owners of local short-term rentals, as well as the property management businesses they often hire.

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