Council: Homeowners must choose between short-term, long-term rentals

City Council on Tuesday spent nearly an hour fine-tuning recently changed rules regarding accessory dwelling units in Boulder, debating penalties for violations of rent-restrictions and whether or not homeowners should be allowed both an ADU and a short-term rental license.

Boulder has been chasing looser ADU regulations for decades. Council acted in late August, moving to allow larger accessory dwellings with no additional parking requirements in exchange for limited rents. ADUs also will be allowed in more zones and at greater density; the two-person occupancy limit was axed as well.

On Tuesday, members were 6-2 in favor of an option that will force property owners to choose: either run a vacation rental from your home, or build a smaller structure and have a long-term tenant. Homeowners with both an ADU and short-term rental will be grandfathered in.

Councilwomen Cindy Carlisle and Jill Adler Grano opposed, believing homeowners should be allowed greater flexibility in how to use their properties. The recommendation to allow one or the other came from city staff, who said it would be too difficult to determine if the ADU was being illegally used as a vacation rental.

The city shouldn’t assume people will game the system, Carlisle argued, but rather should offer more freedom at first and then restrict it if it proves to be problematic. Grano concurred, adding that “people coming in for these licenses are already law abiding; you can do both of these (short-term rentals and ADUs) illegally pretty easily.”

Council also determined a more rigorous penalty schedule for owners who violate the rent-restriction requirements allotted to larger ADUs, or those that don’t provide an extra parking space. The city will set the maximum rents each year, based on state and federal standards. Landlords who charge above those maximums will have to pay back, with 12 percent interest per year, the amount of rent they overcharged to their tenants, plus a fine to the city.

Revocation of the ADU rental license also could be wielded as a punishment, at the discretion of staff. Council wrestled with whether or not to pull licenses from a law-breaking landlords, given that it will displace renters from their homes. Councilwoman Mirabai Nagle suggested that renters be allowed to live in the ADU for free if their landlords broke the rules, but city attorneys said that would qualify as an illegal taking and violate state bans on rent control.

The ordinance will go to a fourth reading, which has yet to be scheduled. The rules, when passed, will go into effect on Feb. 1.



Source: Daily Camera