The city’s short-term rental ordinance took effect on Jan. 4, 2016
The short-term rental ordinance allows Boulder homeowners to apply for a license to rent their property for less than 30 days at a time.
On Nov. 10, 2016 City Council passed amendments to the Short-Term Rental ordinance in Ordinance No. 8154.
What is a Short-Term Rental (STR)?
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.
Additional requirements to qualify for a short-term rental include:
- The rental property must be the owner’s principal residence; principal residence is defined as the dwelling unit in which a person resides for more than one half of the year.
- The name on the license must be the same as the name on the deed for the property, the owner must be a natural person, trust, or a nonprofit organization.
- The owner must verify that the number and location of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors meets the requirements outlined in the application packet.
- The owner must follow the city’s occupancy limits outlined in the application packet.
- The owner must follow special rules outlined in the application packet if renting an accessory unit on the property.
Steps to apply for a short-term rental license:
- Obtain rental information by reviewing the application packet material. Download the Short-Term Rental License Application packet or pick up a copy in-person at the Planning and Development Services Center located at 1739 Broadway, Third Floor.
- Complete and submit an application packet. Property owners must provide two local contacts within 60 minutes of the property.
- Completed short-term rental housing application
- License fees payable to City of Boulder. Total fees for a new short-term rental license are $130
- Short-term rental license fee is $105 for a four-year license. A one-time business license fee of $25. For tax information, contact the Tax and Licensing Division at 303-441-3921. This fee is not required if renewing your license.
- Completed Life Safety Compliance verification form
- Completed short-term rental license affidavit
- The owner shows proof of principal residence as detailed on the affidavit form
- The owner agrees to the occupancy limits
- The owner agrees to accessory unit requirements (if eligible)
- Affidavit of Legal Residency: State law requires the City of Boulder to verify that applicants obtaining certain public benefits are lawfully present in the United States. The verification process has three stages:
- The owner shows a form of identification as detailed on the affidavit form
- The owner signs the affidavit
- For non-citizens, the city verifies the owner is lawfully present
3. Make copies of all forms for your records
4. Submit all forms together as a complete packet. Incomplete packets will be returned to the applicant. Mail or deliver complete application packet to:
Planning and Development Services
c/o Rental Licensing Program
1739 Broadway, Third Floor
Boulder, CO 80306
The Planning and Development Services Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays.
5. A copy of the rental license certificate will be mailed to you and is valid for four years or until the property is sold.
For information regarding short-term rental licensing application requirements and rental license status, contact the Rental Housing Licensing Program at 303-441-3152. For information regarding filing short-term rental accommodations tax returns , contact the Tax & Licensing Division at 303-441-3050.
- 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.
Principal residence is the dwelling unit in which a person resides for more than one half of the year. The rental can be an accessory unit on the same parcel, but the owner may only have a short-term license for either the main unit or the accessory unit, but not both. The accessory unit must be legal to be rented. The owner must be a natural person, a trust, or a nonprofit organization. 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. All advertisements must contain the maximum allowed unrelated occupancy as well as the rental housing license (RHL) number issued by the city.
- How much does it cost to get a short-term rental license?
For new applications, the total licensing fee is $130. The Short-Term Rental License Application fee is $105, plus a one-time fee of $25 for the business license. 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. Only the $105 short-term rental license application fee is required if renewing a short-term rental housing license.
- Are rental licensing inspections required for short-term rentals?
Short-term rentals are not required to have rental housing 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 quarterly 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 and on the same parcel as the owners’ principal residence may be a short-term rental. The owner may only have a short term rental housing license for either the main unit 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 principal residence. Then you must fill out a short-term rental housing license application and submit it to Planning and Development Services, along with payment for a short-term license and business license. A new rental housing 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 housing 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 housing 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, are not required to comply with the city’s SmartRegs/energy efficiency requirements. Detached owner accessory units will be required to comply by Dec. 31, 2018.
- 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 housing license is for a property that is a person’s principal residence, whereas a long-term rental housing 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 main 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 main unit 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. The 120-day rental per calendar year restriction on accessory units would still apply.