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What happens to unregistered vacation rentals in Durango?

About a dozen complaints made in mid-July, but only one checks out
The city of Durango requires vacation rentals to comply with local regulations or they will receive orders to stop operating. (Jonathan Elderfield/Associated Press file)

Looking for a vacation rental in Durango? Investors might want to make sure the unit is properly registered with the city of Durango.

“Ask Durango,” the city’s online resource for anonymous questions, requests and complaints, received 12 code enforcement complaints in mid-July about vacation rentals. The complaints said the rentals were not listed on the map of registered vacation homes in the city.

The notifications triggered investigations into the rentals, part of Durango’s process for vetting complaints and cracking down on unregistered vacation rentals.

“Of the 12 properties included on the complaint list, only one was an unpermitted, non-compliant vacation rental,” said Nicol Killian, assistant director of community development.

That rental, which was relatively new, will receive an enforcement letter from the city, she said. It is located in the 300 block of East Seventh Avenue.

Private homeowners sometimes decide to make a little extra money by renting units or rooms to visitors.

It might seem like a convenient way to earn more income, but there are code regulations and requirements that vacation rental operators must follow or they might receive a cease and desist order.

All rentals must have a city limited use permit and a city business license. They also must remit a lodgers tax to the city, Killian said.

The city also limits vacation rentals in certain areas of Durango. The rentals are allowed but limited in the residential area east of downtown, zoned as EN-1, and the area west of the Animas River near downtown, zoned as EN-2.

Both zones have a waitlist for new vacation rentals, Killian said.

Commercial and mixed-use areas have some opportunities for more vacation rentals. Some homeowners associations restrict the property use. The best way to know for sure if a vacation rental is allowed is to check with city staff members in the Community Development Department at River City Hall, Killian said.

The city began allowing the rentals in 2014 but did minimal enforcement in the first couple of years, she said. The city of Durango hired LodgingRevs, a division of MuniRevs, about two years ago to keep track of vacation rentals.

LodgingRevs vets complaints to see if they are valid then researches the rental to see if it is in compliance with local regulations. The city also conducts random searches from time to time. Non-compliant rentals receive cease and desist orders, she said.

“If we know they’ve been renting, we still may go after them and require them to pay the appropriate taxes and they won’t be able to rent,” Killian said.

In the past few years, complaints have been few and far between, she said.

“I think we’ve come to a good place where we haven’t had a lot of complaints in a while,” Killian said. “This is the biggest number of complaints we’ve had in a long time.”

smullane@durangoherald.com

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