Summit County is moving forward with a short-term rental conversion program with the goal of increasing the number of long-term rental units available in the county.
The program was first offered in June when Summit County Housing Director Jason Dietz put together a comprehensive list of short, medium and long term strategies to increase the supply of affordable housing in Summit County. . One of these strategies proposed a program where owners of short-term rentals would turn their units into long-term housing for local residents.
“Opportunity zones”, or neighborhoods traditionally occupied by local labor, would be identified under the program. The idea raised eyebrows, and as the county housing department worked on a plan to bring the program to life, residents of those areas and leaders in the property management industry gave their opinions on the idea.
This all came to a head on Tuesday, September 28, at a working council meeting at the County Commissioners Summit, when Dietz presented preliminary details of the program. Those details are not yet consolidated, but Dietz and his team have said they would like to officially roll out the program on October 15, giving them just over two weeks to make changes. Currently, the program only applies to unincorporated Summit County units, although Dietz said the town of Breckenridge is looking to partner with the program.
Here’s what they have so far.
For homeowners to be eligible to participate, Dietz’s presentation says they must complete an application with the Housing Department. Besides:
- Their domicile must be in unincorporated Summit County.
- The house must be a legally licensed short-term rental unit and it must be in good standing.
- The applicant must be the owner of the property or legally represent the owner or group of ownership.
- The landlord must have a signed lease agreement with qualified tenants.
- The landlord must comply with the mid-term and final checks of the lease to ensure they are in compliance. If found to be non-compliant, they may be excluded from the right to receive additional incentive payments.
- Homeowners who rent a room in their home must commit to renting their space for a minimum of six months.
Property management criteria
Property owners and managers have similar requirements. Property managers must complete an application on behalf of the owner or be listed on the application as a property manager.
To be an eligible tenant taking advantage of this program, individuals must complete an employment verification form showing that they work in Summit County. The owner or manager of the building sends this form to the housing department. Other requirements include:
- At least one tenant must work at least 30 hours per week for an employer based in Summit County.
- Each adult applicant must submit a copy of their driver’s license or other government issued photo ID, two of their most recent pay stubs for all jobs, and an employment verification, such as than a letter of offer.
- People who are self-employed must provide products or services specifically in Summit County.
To help spread the word, Dietz said the Summit Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers will partner with the county and market the program to its members. Dietz said based on early estimates from the organization’s president, Toby Babich, around 80 to 100 units of the organization’s membership group could be converted.
The program will last about six months – most of the ski season. When finished, Dietz said he and his team will come together to fix the program’s growing issues in time for the summer season.
To identify these specificities of the program, the Dietz team sent a survey to certain neighborhoods, which obtained a response rate of 45%. Through this survey, the housing department was able to collect data such as the profits made by short-term rental landlords, how often they use their homes each year and the desired length of the lease. Overwhelmingly, the response was that most landlords were comfortable with a three month lease.
In addition, around 100 of the respondents indicated that they would like to see more information about this program once it is finalized.
Community Summit Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence noted that the roll-out of the program will take place just before the holiday season. She asked Dietz if he was concerned about this factor inhibiting his success. Dietz agreed that it would have been ideal for his team to roll out the program this summer, but a short lead time meant it wasn’t possible. Nonetheless, he said he believed the partnership with the Summit Alliance would prove to be strategic in the program’s initial success.
“The reason I think property managers will play an important role is that in most cases they have the ability to move rooms,” Dietz said. “Let’s say they have 100 different units and someone books in one of the units that may not be the best short term rental, they have the option of moving that rental to a different unit of comparable size to the size – just a comparable unit – and open it to release some existing units.
Dietz said the county did not have the bandwidth to run the program, nor the Summit Combined Housing Authority, nor the Family & Intercultural Resource Center. Instead, Dietz said Landing Locals, a real estate agency based in Truckee, Calif., Would be in charge. It was a matter of concern for Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue.
“I am comfortable with the general direction,” said Pogue. “What concerns me is that it’s really important for this program to be successful, so I’m concerned about the capacity of the locals to disembark. I’m just concerned about how we have enough capacity in the system to really support this program for it to be successful because the last thing I would like to see is that it doesn’t succeed and we do the job. autopsy and we’re missing something.
Lawrence’s concerns were with the commercialization of the program.
“I’m probably more concerned with how we let people know we’re doing this and what the marketing side of that is,” Lawrence asked. “There must be a lot of spice behind it to get people to think about it.”
Dietz acknowledged Pogue’s concerns and noted that they were limited as to which entity has the capacity to operate the program. As for the success of the program, Dietz said he expected a “tidal wave” of movement and that the county would likely spend its entire budget on the program before the end of the year.
The Dietz team is expected to continue to push the program forward and finalize details in the coming weeks.