Denver charges short-term rental hosts with felonies
- Jul 16, 2019 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
The city of Denver, Colorado, has charged a short-term rental owner with a felony for allegedly making a false statement about his rental property.
It’s the second time in two months that vacation rental owners in the city have been charged with this kind of crime. In both cases, the operators are accused of misrepresenting their place of residence. City short-term rental law requires hosts to live in the properties that they rent out.
Aaron Elinoff, an attorney, was charged with attempting to influence a public servant by making a false statement in a signed and notarized affidavit. The offense is a Class 4 felony, which can be punished by two to six years in prison and/or fines of $2,000 to $500,000.
The charge is related to an affidavit Elinoff signed, swearing that his primary residence was a home on Raleigh Street. A Denver Excise and Licensing inspector
investigated, and prosecutors allege that Elinoff was actually living at a home on Tennyson Street and operating the Raleigh Street property as a short-term rental.
In June, a couple, Alexander and Stacy Neir, were similarly charged.
Denver’s short-term rental law only allows vacation rental hosts to rent out their primary residences, not secondary properties. They must obtain a city short-term rental business license and post the license number in any advertisements.
According to Eric Escudero, Director of Communications for Excise and Licenses, enforcement of the short-term rental law "isn't new as far as making sure people are aware of the short-term-rental rules in Denver. But we're also trying to get people in compliance, so they understand what they're required to do. You just have to follow the rules, which were put in place to protect the integrity of neighborhoods," he said.
There are 2,673 active short-term-rental licenses in Denver, and the current compliance rate is 76.2 percent, which is much higher than most major cities. The licensing compliance rate rose 25 percent from July 2018 to July 2019, according to Escudero.
In April, more short-term rental rules went into effect in Denver, including:
- Vacation rental hosts are required to alert the company responsible for insuring the property that it will be used as a short-term rental, even if the host does not obtain liability insurance from that company.
- Short-term rental hosts must have liability insurance coverage for the property of at least $1 million. Operators may go through their short-term rental platform for liability insurance.
- Hosts whose property is part of a homeowners association are required to notify the association before they offer their property for short-term rental.
Short-term rental hosts in Denver are also required to collect taxes from guests, including city lodger’s tax and state sales tax. Before they can collect these taxes, hosts must register with the state for tax licenses with both the city and the state.
Airbnb automatically collects the taxes for hosts who use its site, but if operators use other listing platforms, such as Vrbo, they’re responsible for collecting and remitting lodging taxes to the city and state themselves.
Even if your rental platform collects taxes for you, you’re still required to register for city and state tax licenses and file regular lodging tax returns with both authorities. MyLodgeTax can automate and simplify short-term rental tax compliance for hosts, including lodging tax registration and filing. For more on short-term rental taxes in Colorado, see our state Vacation Rental Tax Guide.