How are Short-Term Rentals Affecting the Denver Rental Market?

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There has been increasing talk about short-term rental companies like Airbnb and VRBO in Denver because of rising rental prices and many units being used as short-term rentals. Depending on who you talk to, short-term rentals are either the best thing for Denver or the absolute worst. Proponents say that allowing short-term rentals in the city allow people to make money from properties they already own or are currently paying for. Opponents say that it allows people to trample on residential neighborhoods while contributing nothing to the local economy.

Denver residents have complained about short-term rentals raise rental prices because it keeps useable units off the market and tightens demand. Airbnb claims that it helps middle-class families make their mortgages by allowing them to rent out their homes when they aren’t using them and make some extra money. Technically, short-term rentals are illegal in Denver, but according to Colorado Public Radio there are almost 1700 Airbnb units here. The city is working with Airbnb to clear up regulations and come up with a compromise. The proposed rules will require short-term renters to possess a business license and live on the property they rent.

Some housing experts don’t think that there are enough units going off the market due to short-term rentals to make a dent in the rental market in Denver. If they continue to be mostly unregulated by the city, however, will they eventually swallow up all the affordable housing in some of the most popular neighborhoods? Airbnb is only one of the short-term rental companies flocking to Denver to allow residents to rent their properties. VRBO and Flipkey provide similar services but aren’t as open about their data as Airbnb. Since the data is incomplete in reporting just how many properties are off the market for renters because of short-term rentals, many people remain concerned.

The Denver rental market is loosening for prospective renters because of increased development and new units hitting the market all the time. But, as more people continue to move to Denver, there remains the risk of short-term rentals pushing people out of affordable housing options. The Denver City Council is working on legislation that could put limits on short-term rentals, but their effects on the rental market remains to be seen. With new units going up all the time and new legislation coming, short-term rentals will likely have an unpredictable effect on rental prices.