It may get harder to illegally run a vacation rental and dodge associated taxes in Durango in the next few months.
The city is planning to contract with Host Compliance to track down the addresses of illegal short-term rentals and with Airbnb to collect lodgers and sales tax.
These are just a few policy changes regarding vacation rentals discussed Tuesday by the Durango City Council.
Councilors also asked staff members to explore options for regulating short-term room rentals across town and limiting how many vacation rentals will be allowed along the north Main Avenue corridor.
Most changes aim to help preserve housing for residents within the city.
Growing numbers of vacation rentals in resort towns tend to make tight housing markets worse. The city has already capped the number of vacation rentals that can operate in the historic neighborhoods, and it requires permits for all rented homes.
“Durango is perceived to be truly a unique leader in these ordinances,”Councilor Dean Brookie said.
Host Compliance will provide addresses of illegal rentals to the city, and that will help make the rules easier to enforce and less time-consuming to enforce, Brookie said.
Information from the company could be coming in the next four to six weeks, Director of Community Development Kevin Hall said.
Once the city contacts those running illegal vacation rentals, about 80 to 90 percent either take down ads or change them to at least a 30-day rental, Planner Scott Shine said.
“It’s a minority of people that thumb their nose at the city,” he said.
Those who operate illegally may pay taxes anyway through a proposed contract between the city and Airbnb. Airbnb is an international online company that allows people to list homes or rooms as vacation rentals.
Under the contract, Airbnb will collect taxes for the city and turn them in on a monthly basis, Finance Director Julie Brown said.
“I think it’s one way to get part of this market in compliance,” she said.
Other Colorado towns and the state are considering similar agreements, she said.
Councilors also want to limit vacation rentals along the north Main Avenue corridor as it begins to redevelop the area.
This will let developers know up front that housing units in mixed-use areas will not be converted into short-term rentals.
“I think we should be proactive with this,” Councilor Dick White said.
Councilors also would like to pursue new policy around short-term room rentals.
The board sees single-room rentals as an opportunity to help support home ownership, and they would like to see regulations to govern them all over town.
“The key is to keep one permanent resident in that space,” Brookie said.
The city would likely go through an extended public process to allow these kinds of rentals in all neighborhoods, Planner Vicki Vandegrift said.
However, the city is starting a pilot program to allow them in residential-agricultural areas that have large lots and generally are found near the city’s borders. On Oct. 4, the council will have a public hearing about this change.