Durango uses Host Compliance solutions to effectively enforce its short-term rentals ordinance

DiScovered 33% of short-term vacation rentals in community were operating illegally   

Substantial Time Savings through automated identification of listings on 50+ platforms

Effectively Enforcing ordinance to preserve NEIGHBORHOODS 

Challenges

The City of Durango is a small community of less than 20,000 residents, that relies heavily upon the tourism industry, with a ski resort less than 30 minutes away. The City was receiving an increased number of complaints related to short-term vacation rentals, specifically about trash, noise and parking, and knew tighter controls and enforcement were needed. With the rise of non-permitted short-term vacation rentals in their community, they knew they needed a better way to enforce the regulations they already had in place.  

As a resort town, Durango recognized the benefits of vacation rentals. But with a surrounding geography that has put a limit on the amount of developable land, the City also wants to retain housing for its long-term residents. Preserving established neighborhoods by ensuring they aren’t overrun by short-term vacation rentals was important to the City to protect the quality of life for residents.

In speaking about short-term vacation rentals, Scott Shine, the Planning Manager with the City of Durango, indicated they had “...a really robust system to govern these. We felt proud and confident in what we did to write the legislation, but then we came up against this problem of how do we make sure these are being enforced consistently and fairly?”  

Scott Shine was responsible for creating and enforcement of regulations related to short-term vacation rentals. He indicated that the City previously struggled with identifying non-permitted rentals. Identifying illegal short-term vacation rentals was previously a time intensive and manual undertaking. They needed to check numerous online vacation rental sites, and verify if each was a permitted short-term vacation rental listing.

Locating specific homes could even require having to drive through neighborhoods to match rental listings with a specific house in a neighborhood. The City of Durango was not staffed to do this sort of manual checking for enforcement, and knew they needed a cost-effective solution.

Objectives

Preserving the local community feeling for residents was a key focus for the City of Durango and they felt a tight approach to managing vacation rentals was needed. Dealing with the challenge of short-term vacation rentals was a priority, but they preferred to start cautiously until they were confident they had found the best strategy. Preserving the existing stock of housing for residents was critical, and to do so they needed the ability to enforce regulations on short-term vacation rentals locally.

The City of Durango decided to undertake a lengthy public consultation (which lasted three years) with property managers, hotel owners and residents. The feedback received was valuable, and the process helped ensure different stakeholder groups had an opportunity to provide their input.

Solution

The City of Durango chose Host Compliance for tracking and effectively regulating short-term vacation rentals in their community. Previously staff tried to manually match online short-term vacation rental listings with households so they could enforce the legislation designed to protect local residents. This is now something Host Compliance does for them automatically and instantly.

A technology-based solution was attractive to the City because it would cut costs and produce more reliable data. Host Compliance could provide them weekly updates on the addresses for active listings and real-time information on the vacation rental market to make enforcement much easier.

Having greater visibility into the short-term vacation rentals empowered the City to manage them better, and they can now cap the number of permits allowed in given neighborhoods. For example, in some areas there are no caps related to short-term vacation rentals, such as commercial and mixed use areas, but caps are more common in certain residential areas. The visibility that Host Compliance has given them has enabled them to make more effective decisions related to caps, and the ability of certain areas to handle short-term vacation rentals.

Outcomes

Host Compliance provided the City with the most cost-effective solution to manage the monitoring of short-term vacation rentals and assist with enforcement. It has saved the City a considerable amount of time and money, and enabled them to effectively enforce regulations for the benefit of residents. City staff no longer need to manually search for short-term vacation rental listings on the growing number of online platforms in the marketplace. “Just having the information and having it in real time has been a benefit for the City of Durango,” Scott said.

As they see non-permitted listings they can easily follow up directly with the owner to either take down their listing or become permitted as required. After uncovering non-permitted listings using Host Compliance, Scott said the City have found most homeowners are cooperative upon first contact. The City of Durango has been able to return those units back into the long-term housing stock and support the City’s focus on making more affordable housing options available.

At the time of the interview, Scott said the City had currently has 70 permitted vacation rentals. In its first few months with Host Compliance, they uncovered 40 additional illegal short-term vacation rental listings. This was an early big win for the City, providing a comprehensive understanding of where further enforcement was needed.

Staff have used the dashboard data provided by Host Compliance to support cases that are taken to municipal court when homeowners don’t comply. The dashboard and snapshot format Host Compliance uses to provide data has also been a useful tool for staff in meetings and made it easy to give quick summaries of active listings. Now when they receive inquiries about short-term vacation rentals, they can more respond with more certainty and can take action accordingly.

Having both a robust permitting program and the ability to monitor and enforce short-term vacation rentals, with help from Host Compliance, has been a game changer for the City of Durango. Using Host Compliance has ensured they have a complete system in place to manage short-term vacation rentals more effectively in their community.