Short Term Rentals

Short Term Rentals

Licensing Applications for Short Term Rentals Open May 1, 2021

City Council recently approved an ordinance allowing a limited capacity of short-term rentals (STRs) in Wheat Ridge. The ordinance takes effect on May 1, 2021, and the licensing application process will open on that date. Information on how to register, including a how-to guide for short-term rental hosts, will be posted in April.

What is a short-term rental or STR?

An STR is a dwelling unit, or portion of a dwelling unit, that is used for lodging for a period of less than 30 consecutive days. Basically, a property owner can rent out their house, or rooms in their house, to guests for a short period of time.  STRs are usually listed on web-based platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway, Stayz, and Expedia.  

Why regulate short-term rentals?

Regulating STRs has been a focus of City Council since 2018, and several study sessions have been held for Council to explore various regulation options. Before the ordinance was approved, STRs existed in Wheat Ridge but were completely unregulated and not even mentioned in the City Code. Without any regulations, STRs were challenging for the City to enforce or to shut down offenders. City Council was clear about the creation of an ordinance that allows STRs, but limits how many there can be in the community. The ordinance creates appropriate licensing requirements and puts significant responsibility on STR hosts to be good neighbors. Licensed STRs will also provide revenue to the City in the form of Lodgers’ Tax.

Who can operate a short-term rental?

An STR host must be the owner of a property:

  • One STR in an entire dwelling unit they own but will not occupy – a “whole house” rental, and
  • One STR in a portion or a room of a dwelling unit where they continuously reside – a “partial house” rental

Owners of apartments or mixed-use buildings on commercial corridors may be permitted to have additional STRs. STRs in condos may already be restricted by the Homeowners Association (HOA) or other ownership agreement. If not, the code limits condo developments to four total STRs per development to prevent a large number of condos from being converted into STRs. These details are included in the ordinance.

Registration information will be available in May.

Are there limits on the number of short-term rentals?

Yes. After the initial registration period, a cap on the total number of STRs in each City Council district will take effect on November 1, 2021. This will limit the number of “whole house” STRs in each district to 2% of the total number of dwelling units within that district (in single-family homes, duplexes, and single-family attached townhomes). This cap does not apply to “partial house” STRs or STRs in commercial districts.

If the maximum number of STRs for any district is reached, applications will be placed on a waitlist until the number of STRs in that district fall below the number allowed.

The 2% limit was put in place by City Council to reduce the impacts of STRs on neighborhoods and limit the overall number in each district.

What is included in the ordinance?

Read the entire ordinance

Is registration available yet?

We are not accepting STR applications until May 1, 2021. Please check back in April for more details and a how-to guide specifically for STR hosts. The City is working with a third-party to administer the licensing program, and the process will be easy and convenient by going online. Lodgers’ Tax is required to be collected starting August 1, 2021.

In April, resources will also be available for neighbors including a guide to STRs, how neighbors may be notified if an STR is nearby, and how to report issues.