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Apply for or Renew a Rental Housing License

Apply for or Renew a Rental Housing License

RHL Home | Apply | Short-Term | Occupancy | Rental Inspections

First Standard Long-Term License or New Owner

Standard Long-Term rentals are rentals of 30 days or more at a time. To apply for a rental housing license pdf for the first time or as a new owner of new or existing rental properties, submit a completed Rental Housing License Application and fees payable to City of Boulder.

License Renewal

Rental housing licenses must be renewed every four years. To renew an existing or expired rental housing license pdf, submit a completed Rental Housing License Application and fees payable to the City of Boulder. 

Licensing Fees

  • $105 Application Fee - Required for all applications per single dwelling unit or per building for multi-unit buildings
  • $50 SmartRegs 2017 Fee -  Due if property was not SmartRegs compliant by 3/31/17
  • $100 SmartRegs 2018 Fee -  Due if property was not SmartRegs compliant by 12/31/17 and for new rental properties subject to the SmartRegs program

Short-Term Rental License

Short-term rentals are properties that are rented for less than 30 days a time, excluding permanently affordable units. The rental property must be the owner's principal residence; the address must appear on the owner's voter registration or auto registration, or be used as the address at which the owner's children are registered for school. The name on the license must be the same as the name on the deed for the property. The name must be a person or a trust, if the beneficiary of the trust is a person; but not a company name on the deed. 

Apply for a short-term rental license pdf for the first time or as a new owner of new or existing rental properties.

Short-Term Rental Licensing Fee

Total fees for a new short-term rental license are $130, a $105 fee for the four-year license, plus a one-time business license fee of $25. Make checks payable to the "City of Boulder."

Submit Your Application Packet

Please make copies for your records and then submit all of the required materials together as a complete packet. Incomplete packets will be returned to the applicant. Mail or deliver the required items to:

Planning and Development Services
c/o Rental Licensing Program
1739 Broadway, 3rd floor
P. O. Box 791
Boulder, Colorado 80306

License Viewing and Posting

The Availability of License code states that "no operator who holds a rental license shall fail to make the rental license available to anyone within 72-hours of receiving a request. Posting of a rental license at the property is not required.

Additional Forms and Information

All rental licensing forms can be found using a keyword search within the P&DS Forms Database. To view most of the rental licensing forms, search for "rental."

For condominium units with central heating systems, please read the Boulder Property Maintenance Code Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Requirements in the Applications and Forms Database before applying for a rental housing license.

Rental Unit Disclosures

Landlords are required to provide a written document to tenants that explain city regulations about occupancy limits and parking regulations. Landlords are encouraged to make the required disclosures at the time that lease agreements are executed in order to promote discussion of these city regulations. Property managers can, however, make the required written disclosures at any time during the lease. Where leases are already in force, a letter to tenants explaining the relevant ordinances will fulfill the code requirement.

View the Rental Unit Sample Lease Disclosure Letter.

Standard Long-Term Rental Housing License FAQs

  • Where is the Rental Housing Licensing Office?

The office is in the Planning and Development Services Center, 1739 Broadway, third floor. The center's hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday. The office is closed on holidays.

  • Are there circumstances when a rental license is not required?

If you think your property meets the below circumstances, please fill out a Rental Licensing Exemption Affidavit pdf.

Rental licenses are not required under any one of the following circumstances, provided that the exemptions in subsections below shall not apply to short-term rentals:

1)            a dwelling unit occupied by the owner (or members of the owner's family) who rents to no more than two people unrelated to the owner's family; OR
2)            a commercial hotel and motel that offers lodging accommodations primarily for less than 30 days at a time. Bed and breakfast facilities are not excluded from rental license requirements; OR
3)            common areas and elements of buildings containing attached, but individually owned, dwelling units; OR
4)            a dwelling unit that meets all of the following conditions: the dwelling unit is the owner's principal residence; the dwelling unit is temporarily rented for no longer than 12 consecutive months in any 24-month period; the dwelling unit was occupied by the owner immediately prior to its rental; the owner is temporarily living outside of Boulder County; and the owner intends to reoccupy the dwelling unit upon termination of the temporary rental period.
  • How much is the rental license fee?

The application fee is $105 per property (or per unit in a multi-unit building, if not all are owned by the same owner) to cover the administrative costs of issuing the rental license, regardless of number of units. The 2018 SmartRegs fee has been increased to $100, for a total of $150 including the existing 2017 fee, which will apply to rentals that are still non-compliant for the end of 2017. The SmartRegs fee breakdown is as follows:

  1. $50 SmartRegs 2017 Fee - Due if the property was not SmartRegs compliant by 3/31/17
  2. $100 SmartRegs 2018 Fee - Due if the property was not SmartRegs compliant by 12/31/17 and for new rental properties subject to the SmartRegs program. 
  • What are the occupancy requirements of my rental property?

The city's occupancy regulations permit no more than three unrelated persons to inhabit most residences. In condominiums and apartments, no more than four unrelated persons are permitted in each unit. Permitted occupancy of a property is ultimately determined by zoning and can be verified with the city. The maximum penalty for over-occupancy is $2,000 per day plus 90 days in jail. 

  • Who do I call to find out if a property has a valid rental license?

Call the Rental Housing Licensing Office at 303-441-3152 or use the Licensed Rental Property Search to view addresses that have a current rental license.

  • How long is a rental license valid?

After the baseline inspections are completed and the license is issued, a renewal application, fee, renewal inspection compliance verification form, and an affidavit of legal residency must be submitted every four years to maintain the rental license. A new rental license application and a new baseline inspection are required when ownership of the property changes.

The City of Boulder's SmartRegs Ordinance No. 7726 requires that residential rental units comply with adopted energy efficiency standards by Dec. 31, 2018. If a unit is not SmartRegs compliant, the city will issue a reduced-term rental license, expiring on Dec. 31, 2018. Failure to gain compliance may result in increased fees, fines, penalties, or other enforcement action. 

  • If rented, are accessory dwelling units (ADUs), owner's accessory units (OAUs) and limited accessory units (LAUs) required to be licensed?

An accessory dwelling unit is a separate and complete single housekeeping unit located within an owner's primary dwelling unit. An owner's accessory unit is a separate and complete single housekeeping unit that may be located either within or separate from the owner's primary dwelling unit. A limited accessory unit is an accessory unit created from the conversion of a non-conforming multi-family use through the administrative review process. Rental licenses are required and in addition to inspection for licensing, city staff may inspect the ADU/OAU/LAU for other approval criteria.

  • Does an owner need a property agent?

Not if the owner resides in Boulder County. Property owners who do not reside in Boulder County are required to have a local agent. The local agent is designated by the owner and provides a contact person for the property.

  • Can my tenant be the local agent?

Yes, however, please consider that tenants frequently change.

  • How do I make changes to my address, phone or agent information?

Fill out the Rental Licensing Change of Information or Agent form pdf and send it in with your changes.

  • Are there circumstances under which code violations could impact the term of an existing rental license?

Yes. The Reduced Term Rental License code allows the term of a rental license to be reduced to 12 months when there is a violation of the land use regulations involving either the limitations on the number of occupants or the number of dwelling units. The term of a rental license may be reduced to 24 months for violations of the Housing Code.

  • How does the SmartRegs ordinance effect the rental housing program?

The SmartRegs ordinances require all rental housing to meet a basic energy efficiency requirement by 2019. 

Standard Long-Term & Accessory Unit Rental Inspection FAQs

  • What inspections do I need to get licensed?

A Baseline Inspection is needed for:  a standard long-term rental property that has never been licensed before;  a rental property whose previous license has expired; or  a transfer of ownership.

When renewing a standard long-term rental license, renewal inspection compliance verification forms must be completed and signed by a licensed inspector.

  • What do the inspections include and who does them?

Inspections are done by private inspection companies. Re-inspections may be required if there are items to be repaired. If the property is in compliance, the inspector will inform you at the inspection site and will provide a signed inspection compliance verification form. 

View a list of Companies Licensed to Perform Both Baseline and Renewal Inspections. Before hiring any company to perform the inspections, ask the company to ensure that their licenses are current with the city, as the city's lists are not verified on a daily basis.

Charges for the inspection depend on the policies of the licensed rental housing inspector that you have contracted with. Prices vary - please compare prices between companies.

All information on the necessary inspections can be found in the  Rental License + SmartRegs Handbook pdf.

Baseline Inspection

The Baseline Inspection consists of four parts.

1.            General Life Safety Requirements
2.            Plumbing Facilities and Fixture Requirements
3.            Mechanical and Electrical Requirements
4.            Fire Safety Requirements

Renewal Inspection

The Renewal Inspection consists of four parts.

1.            General Life Safety Requirements
2.            International Property Maintenance Code Appendix C: Energy Efficiency Requirements
3.            Mechanical Requirements
4.            Electrical Requirements

  • What if I can't get an inspection completed in time?

If you are unable to have the baseline or safety inspection completed by the date on your rental license new/renewal form, please call the Rental Housing Licensing Office at 303-441-3152 to request a time extension for completion of these items.

  • My inspections are a few months old - can I still use them?

Yes, inspections are considered current if they were done within the last 12 months.

  • Who do I talk to when I have a question about a repair requirement?

A contractor licensed in the City of Boulder can assist you with determining the cost and extent of the repair work.

  • How are fees for the private housing inspection companies determined?

The city is not a party to the contract so is not involved in setting the fee. It is up to the property owner to hire the inspector and negotiate a price for the service.

  • What are the requirements to become licensed as a City of Boulder rental housing inspector?

Visit the Contractor Licensing page to learn more.

Short-Term Rental FAQs

  • What is a short-term rental and what is allowed in the City of Boulder?

Short-term rentals are properties that are rented for less than 30 days at a time, excluding dwellings owned by the federal government, the state, or any of their agencies or political subdivisions and facilities licensed by the state as health care facilities; also excluding permanently affordable units; and are only allowed at the owner’s principal place of residence.

This means where the person is registered to vote, has his or her car registered, or where there are other indications that this is the place where the person lives. The rental can be an accessory unit on the same parcel, but the owner may only have a short-term license for either the principal residence or the accessory unit, but not both. The accessory unit must be legal to be rented.  The owner must be a natural person and not any type of corporation or partnership. The owner’s name must be on the deed to the property.

  • What is the process by which owners register their short-term rental with the city and how will people know if a property is a legal short-term rental? 

Owners will submit a short-term rental licensing application to Planning and Development Services (P&DS). Staff will review the application materials and issue a rental license and business license to owners who meet all requirements. All licensed short-term rentals will be viewable on the city’s Map of Licensed Residential Rental Properties (colored differently than regular long-term rentals):

  • Do I need a license before advertising my short term rental?

Yes, owners are required to obtain a short-term rental license prior to advertising their property for rental.

  • When will the city start issuing licenses for short term rentals? 

Applications will be accepted mid-December. Please submit your application at least two weeks prior to the date you’d like to rent your property to allow for adequate processing time.

  • How much does it cost to get a short-term rental license?

$105, plus the cost of obtaining a business license ($25). Both payments are due at the time of application, and can be paid with one form of payment, if desired. Planning and Development Services accepts cash, check, Visa or MasterCard payments.

  • Are rental licensing inspections required for short-term rentals?

Short-term rentals are not required to have rental licensing inspections. All accessory units are already required to have a long-term rental license, so those will be inspected under that provision. The owner will be required to certify that the home has smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and possibly other safety equipment.

  • How long is my short-term rental license good for?

Short-term rental licenses have the same term as a standard/long-term rental license, which is four years or until the property is sold.

  • What is the process for renewing a short-term rental license?

The renewal process will be similar to the first time application process. You will be required to submit an application and payment to Planning and Development Services, along with proof that you have maintained your required City of Boulder business license.

  • How do I apply for the business license that is required to rent my property short-term?

When you submit your short-term rental license application, you should include payment for the business license ($25). City staff will review your application and issue a short-term rental license and business license to owners who meet all requirements.

  • What if I already have a business license?  Do I have to apply and pay again?

Your current business license must be in your name (not an LLC or trust) and must be issued for the address you intend to rent short-term. If you have a business license meeting these criteria, please provide the business license number for verification.

  • What is involved in filing and remitting taxes on rentals? 

A business license will be mailed once the application process has been approved. The city’s Tax and Licensing Division will send out tax returns on a monthly basis and they are due on the 20th of the following month.

  • I want to rent my accessory unit short-term (30 days or less). Is that legal?

An accessory unit which is legally established, on the same parcel as the owners’ primary residence may be a short-term rental. The owner may only have a short term license for either the principal residence or the accessory unit, but not both. All accessory units are already required to have a long- term rental license and will be inspected under that provision. 

  • Are there limitations on the number of days a property can be rented in a year?

There is no limit on the number of days that a residence can be rented in a year. An accessory unit may only be rented for up to 120 days in a year (less than 30 days at a time).

  • How many people can occupy my short-term rental?

Short term rentals of  accessory units (ADUs and OAUs) are limited to members of a family* or up to two unrelated persons

Short term rentals of  principal dwelling units  are as follows:

In   P, A, RR, RE  and  RL  zoning districts: a dwelling may be rented to up to three persons or members of a family* plus up to two additional persons. In circumstances where the operator(s) of the short term rental reside in the dwelling, the operator and his/her family members count as a single person -- allowing up to two additional persons to occupy the short-term rental.

In  MU, RM, RMX, RH, BT, BC, BMS, BR, DT, IS, IG, IM  and  IMS  zoning districts: a dwelling may be rented to up to four persons or members of a family* plus up to two additional persons.

In circumstances where the operator(s) of the short term rental reside in the dwelling, the operator and his/her family members count as a single person- allowing up to three additional persons to occupy the short term rental.

  • How can I convert my existing rental license to a short-term rental license?

You must be able to prove that the property in question is your primary residence. Then you must fill out a short-term rental license application and submit it to Planning and Development Services, along with payment for a short-term license and business license. A new rental license with a four year effective date will be issued.

  • How can I convert my short-term rental license to a standard rental license?

Fill out an application for a standard rental license, contact a licensed inspector to have your property inspected, and submit all of your paperwork and licensing fee to Planning and Development Services. A new rental license with a four year effective date will be issued.

  • Does my short term rental need to comply with the SmartRegs/energy efficiency requirement?

Short-term rentals, other than detached owner accessory units, will not be required to comply with the city’s SmartRegs/energy efficiency requirements. Detached owner accessory units will be required to comply as of Jan. 2, 2019.

  • I think that my neighbor is using their home as a short-term rental, but they are not showing up on the license map. Who do I contact to file a complaint?

You can report   Rental Housing Licensing Code Violations online or by calling 303-441-1880.

  • I am a renter and my landlord says it’s ok if I also use the property for a short-term rental.  What do I need to do to allow this?

This is an illegal use of the property within Boulder city limits. Owners can only rent their property short-term if it is their principal residence (i.e. not a rental property).

  • Can I have a short-term and long-term license for the same property?

A short-term rental license if for a property that is a person’s principal residence, whereas a long-term rental license is for a property that is  not a person’s principal residence and is rented full-time. As a result, both a short-term and long-term rental license cannot be held concurrently on one dwelling unit.

The approved ordinance does not allow a lessee to engage in short-term rentals; it is not possible for a person occupying an accessory unit as a renter to rent that unit or a part of the unit as a short-term rental. Accessory units are treated the same as principal units, that is, they could be rented short term as long as they are owner-occupied. Therefore, the rental can be of an accessory unit on the same parcel, but the owner may only have a short-term license for either the principal residence or the accessory unit, but not both, and the accessory unit must be legal to be rented. 

Further, an accessory unit is considered the same dwelling unit as the main unit, and does not increase the allowed occupancy for the property, so only one type of license, short-term or long-term, may be issued at a time for the entire parcel or property.

Owners may switch between a short-term and long-term rental license on the same property, if they meet the requirements, submit an application and pay the license fees. Though, the 120 day rental per calendar year restriction on accessory units would still apply.