Short-Term Home Rentals (“STRs”) are big business in the Colorado front area, both in places where they are currently permitted and in places where they are not. In many cities, people rent their homes on apps like VRBO and Airbnb, even when the zoning code prohibits it. One such city, Lakewood, Colorado, is trying to tackle this problem head-on by adopt ordinances to directly regulate STRs. However, the ordinances proposed by Lakewood are stricter in scope than the regulatory regimes of other cities in the region like Denver.
The proposed changes would amend Lakewood’s zoning ordinances, which currently only allow short-term rentals to be provided by “lodging establishments” that are located in specially zoned areas. On the other hand, the new rules would allow certain residences to be rented for periods of less than 30 days, subject to certain important reservations. Interested Lakewood residents should apply for a license to use their home as an RTS. These permits will only be granted by the city under certain conditions. The STR must be a single-family home, it must be the applicant’s primary residence, and it must have at least two dedicated off-street parking spaces. In addition, before the applicant can apply for a license, they must first provide each neighbor within 250 feet of the proposed STR with written notice of their request and they must provide the city with proof that the proposed STR has. been inspected by a licensed home inspector who identified unsafe conditions and those unsafe conditions were subsequently corrected. Finally, assuming the applicant was able to jump through each of the other hoops, the license will only be granted if there are no other STRs within 300 feet.
Collectively, these proposed zoning changes are likely to allow STRs on a more limited basis than those in cities with more permissive STR rules. For example, Denver already has a zoning scheme that allows DOS, but his rules do not include the same number of restrictions. While Denver only allows STRs at a person’s primary residence, there are no restrictions limiting STRs to single-family homes only. Additionally, Denver does not require neighborhood notices for every license application, dedicated off-street parking spaces, in-person in-home inspections, or 300-foot offsets between STRs.
On August 23, 2021, the Lakewood City Council voted to file proposed STR orders in order to implement a number of amendments which have not yet been considered by the public. However, interest within the community remains high and the city council hopes to move forward with a version of the ordinances soon. Given the number of STRs currently leased in Lakewood outside of any legal framework, it will be interesting to see the effect the new ordinances have on the total number in the city. We will be following this development with interest to see how it unfolds.