Short-Term Rental Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply for a short-term rental license and when?

Property owners and long-term renters can apply for a license at their primary residence, meaning the place in which a person's habitation is fixed for the term of the license and is the person's usual place of return. Renters must certify and provide verification(PDF, 34KB) that they have the permission of their landlord to conduct short-term rentals. This document must be completed by the appropriate party and uploaded to the online application when submitting.

 

How does someone apply for an short-term rental license?

Applications for short-term rental licenses are submitted online. Visit the short-term rental license page to start the process. Applicants must certify and provide verification they meet the requirements.

 

What is required to obtain an short-term rental license?

Short-term rental operators must certify they meet the following requirements to obtain a license from Denver Excise and Licenses:

  • If the property is leased, a possession of property certificate(PDF, 905KB) showing the landlord's approval to use the property as a short-term rental.
  • A Colorado driver's license or Colorado state ID showing the applicant's name and address and two of the following: Proof of valid motor vehicle registration, proof of voter registration, Federal or state tax returns or other financial documentation, or a utility bill showing the applicant's address.

 

What if I want to operate a short-term rental but the property is not my primary residence?

If the property is not your primary residence, it is not eligible to be licensed as a short-term rental. To rent such a property on a short-term basis, you need to get a lodging facility license. See the licensing page for more information and to check eligibility requirements. A change of building occupancy classification could be required and will likely have construction impacts, including but not limited to requirements for a fire sprinkler system, a fire alarm/detection system, exit signage, and accessibility upgrades. Visit www.denvergov.org/BuildingCode for change of occupancy guidelines.  

A change in zoning use from residential to lodging could also be required. A zoning permit is required to change or establish a new zoning use. A change in use to lodging (whether it’s one unit in a building changing use, or an entire building changing use) is allowed under the Denver Zoning Code as long as the property is in a zone district that allows “lodging accommodations” as a zoning use. Visit www.denvergov.org/commercialzoning for more information on the permitting requirements for a change in zoning use, or to determine your property’s zone district.

Where are short-term rentals allowed?

Short-term rentals are allowed as an accessory use wherever residential uses are allowed. That includes residential and mixed-use commercial districts. Homeowners associations can prohibit short-term rentals through their private covenants and rules.

 

What is the fee for obtaining an short-term rental license? Does a license need to be renewed?

An application fee of $50 and an annual license fee of $100 will be assessed for individual short-term rental license applications. Short-term rental licenses are for one year and must be renewed on time to avoid fines. Short-term rental licenses can be renewed up to 60 days before expiration. 

An application fee will be assessed for lodgers tax account, and the amount depends on when the short-term rental began operation and when the tax account starts. Tax accounts must be renewed every odd year. 

 

How does the city verify a unit is someone's primary residence?

Excise and Licenses requires documentation of primary residency, meaning the place in which a person's habitation is fixed for the term of the license and is the person's usual place of return, upon application and renewal of a short-term rental license. The director also has the authority to request additional documentation that is pertinent to establishing primary residency. The Department relies on various documents that demonstrate the short-term rental operator’s unit is their primary residence. These documents can include, but are not limited to: 

  • Colorado photo ID
  • Proof of valid motor vehicle registration showing the applicant's address
  • Proof of voter registration
  • Federal or state tax returns or other financial documentation showing the applicant's address
  • A utility bill showing the applicant's address

 

Do short-term rental licensees have to pay taxes?

Short-term rental licensees must pay lodger’s tax (10.75%), occupational privilege Tax ($48 a year), and any other applicable taxes or fees. The tax license application is available on the city’s business taxes webpage.

 

Do short-term rental units require in-person inspections?

No. But licensees must certify under penalty of perjury that their short-term rental has a functioning fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detector, smoke alarm, and liability insurance to cover bodily and property damage. Inspection could be required if the Department believes the licensed premises cannot be compliant with fire, building, or zoning requirements.

 

Do I need a license if I'm not currently renting?

A license is required if you are advertising a short-term rental, even if there are no available dates. Rentals advertised for 30 consecutive days or more do not require a license, but the calendar must require a 30-night minimum stay.

 

Why is a license number required to be placed in advertisements?

Excise and Licenses tracks and monitors various short-term rental platforms for licensed and unlicensed short-term rental being advertised. No personal licensee information will be included in the license number. It is unlawful to post an advertisement for a short-term rental without displaying a business file number on all online listings.

If you use AirBnB, the business file number should be listed in the "Registration/License Number" field so it is not blocked by the website.

 

How are short-term rental regulated? What are the fines for violations?

The city tracks and monitors complaints about licensed and unlicensed short term rental units. Excise and Licenses responds to complaints, in addition to conducting proactive enforcement measures through department inspectors. The director of Excise and Licenses has summary authority to levy penalties, fines, suspension, or show-cause hearings that could lead to revocation of a license for violating any provision of the short-term rental rules and regulations, or for violating any local or state law, or for if the property is found to be adversely affecting the public health, safety, or welfare of the immediate neighborhood. Fines can be up to $999 per incident.

 

Does a host have to be present during short-term rental stays?

No. Property owners or long-term renters can conduct short-term rentals while they are on vacation and/or the property is otherwise unoccupied. Hosts are required to leave a brochure that includes contact information and instructions on city services. The name and contact information of a general manager/local responsible party must also be provided as part of the license application. This person must be available to address issues when the licensee is out of town.

 

How many guests are allowed to stay in a short-term rental?

Hosts can set the maximum number of guests. According to the Denver Zoning Code, short-term rentals are accessory to primary residential use, meaning the overall character of the property should remain residential. The Denver Zoning Code also states that short-term rentals do not include rental of a dwelling unit for commercial events, such as parties or weddings. Only one rental contract can be allowed at a time in any short-term rental. Multiple rental contracts to separate parties in a short-term rental are prohibited.

 

Can accessory-dwelling units be used for short-term rentals?

  • An accessory-dwelling unit can be used as a short-term rental by a property owner or long-term renter who is living in the primary structure on the property. An owner or renter living in an accessory-dwelling unit cannot conduct a short-term rental in the primary structure.

    For more information about accessory-dwelling units and short-term rentals, refer to the following resources.
  • The Denver Zoning Code Interpretation published by the zoning administrator regarding short-term rental accessory use
  • Watch a video of the presentation given by Community Planning and Development at the Aug. 11, 2020 Short-Term Rental Advisory Committee meeting
  • View the slide deck(PDF, 384KB) presented by Community Planning and Development at the Aug. 11, 2020 Short-Term Rental Advisory Committee meeting
  • Watch a video of a special question-and-answer session with Community Planning and Development on Sept. 15, 2020
  • Read additional questions and answers about accessory-dwelling units and short-term rentals(PDF, 175KB)

 

 

Can duplexes be used for short-term rentals?

Each unit in a duplex is a separate primary dwelling unit, so the primary resident of each can get a license to conduct a short-term rental. A person who resides in one duplex unit cannot get a license to conduct a short-term rental in the adjacent unit because that unit is not their primary residence.

 

Why does the city license short-term rentals?

  • Short-term rentals are widely operating as a popular home-sharing practice for Denver residents.
  • Provide a regulatory environment that allows the popular practice to continue while focusing responsibility and accountability among operators and limiting the impact on neighborhoods and the availability of housing for residents.

 

How can someone learn more about short-term rentals in Denver?

Visit www.DenverGov.org/STR to review licensing requirements, apply for a license, report issues related to short-term rentals, and send comments or questions to city staff.

 

How do I reset my password for my account?

  1. Click on "I've forgotten my password". 
  2. Enter your email address in the appropriate field and then hit the tab key.
  3. The security question will then appear. (The security question will not appear until you have "tabbed" out of the email section above.)
  4. Answer the security question. 
  5. Click "Send New Password". 
  6. The new password will be emailed to you. Follow the instructions to set your new password.

 

How can a short-term rental license be revoked, sanctioned or denied?

A short-term rental license can be revoked or sanctioned, and an application for a new or renewed license can be denied if a short-term rental dwelling unit is found to be adversely affecting the public health, safety, or welfare of the immediate neighborhood. Licenses can also be denied or revoked if a short-term rental property is found not to be the applicant's or licensee's primary residence. 

 

Can I rent out multiple bedrooms in my home?

A short-term rental can include a single bedroom, entire home, or multiple bedrooms. Short-term rental hosts cannot rent simultaneously to more than one party under separate contracts. If multiple rooms are available, they must be rented together by the same party or be rented one at a time with no overlap between rentals.