Short Term Rentals

Short Term rentals are technically illegal in Lakewood, currently.
But Google “short term rentals lakewood co” and you see listings from:,,,,, – it’s an endless list.

However, Code Enforcement is not actively seeking violators. They only respond when someone files a complaint.
City Council has been discussing an ordinance that would legalize and regulate STR’s, but movement on the issue is very slow.
It looks to me that City Council just wants to leave it the way it is – Under the Table.
I believe that’s a bad idea. Four primary reasons:

1) Investment and Equity firms are buying up houses across the country. It’s part of the reason that your house has increased in value recently.
Trouble is they are buying them to rent them. Here’s just a handful of the articles that I found after searching for “equity firms buying houses to rent’.
Do you really want renters next door, or on both sides of you and across the street? Me neither.
Lakewood can and should limit the number of Short Term Rental Houses in neighborhoods, and more importantly we should make sure they don’t fill up the streets with parking or let the houses turn into flop houses.

2) Lakewood is missing out on Lodging tax like the hotels charge. If these places are going to act like hotels – they should be treated as hotels.

3) We need to install plenty of Neighbor & Home Owner Safeguards. Right now there are none. The big one there will be parking. No one likes to have a neighbor with 4-5 vehicles.

4) The rent on these houses include profit for the Corporations, which makes the rent higher than mortgage payments would have been. Locking the renters into a cycle of never being able to afford their own home.

I sent the following letter to our current City Councilors just before the meeting where the Council was going to discuss the STR ordinance.
(I don’t know why they kicked it down the road, but my first thought is that they are leaving it for the next group of Councilors. – ok by me)

David & Barb:
I see that there are two distinct types of str.
1) Someone is renting out (all or part) of their 1st/2nd home part time.   The owner lives there and is making some extra cash, or possibly it’s the only way they can afford the place.  Since they are there most of the time, they know their neighbors and keep the place up.   I did this when I had a condo in Frisco, and my girlfriend is doing it now in Summit County.    I don’t see why we need to regulate this at all.  I see upside for the owners, and no real downside for neighbors.   
2) Equity firms are buying up houses and going into the hotel business with those places.  There’s also smaller local businesses doing the same thing but the number of units they own is much smaller.  (Call this group: Ken & Karen own 5 AirBNB houses)

The key difference is that in group 1) the owner lives in the place most of the time.   Thus they have a stake in keeping it up, and the neighbors happy.      Group 2) cares about the bottom line, and will go the cheapest route with the property.   
Group 1) keeps neighborhoods whole
Group 2) destroys neighborhoods.           

I can see that parts of the ordinance addresses this dichotomy.   Like requiring owners to live there X amount of time.  Good one.  But there’s a lot of other parts of the ordinance that should only be applied to Group 2).    $750 for a yearly license is an insane cost for someone making ends meet.   Limiting the distance between places strikes me as favoritism of the 1st to apply.  For instance- a neighbor’s daughter just put her father in a home, and intends to rent his place full time to pay for his care. I could go get a license for my place, never use it, and that would keep her from getting a license for STR.   Brilliant!   But it’s a dick move.

Bottom line, We should restrict absentee owners from destroying neighborhoods, while at the same time letting stay at home owners out from under a bureaucratic nightmare.   IE If they only rent their place out sometimes, Lakewood stays off their backs, completely.  No fees, no inspections, no nothing.