Keystone Short-Term Rental Rules

Image - Keystone Short-Term Rental Rules

Over the years, affordable workforce housing has steadily increased in prevalence as an issue in Summit County, Colorado. However, since the onset of Covid-19, the challenge for the Summit County local workforce has continued to mount. And, many local businesses believe the lack of housing is a significant factor driving worker shortages. Plus, if those employed here cannot live locally, many are concerned there will be a potential shift in the "character of Summit County". Accordingly, starting in 2018 and carrying on to the present, stakeholders across Summit County have discussed possible solutions for the lack of affordable housing in Summit County for local employees. And, the various governmental authorities across Summit County have expended significant time and effort to find and implement measures that might potentially ease the local workforce housing crisis. Stemming from these various meetings, governmental bodies across Summit County have either adopted or are considering adopting new regulations regarding short-term rental (“STR”) licenses.

With the building height restrictions in place locally, Summit County does not have towering hotels with tremendous capacity to potentially serve its resort visitors. And, most locals agree the absence of such multi-story structures adds to the charm of our mountain community. However, Summit County tourism nonetheless relies on a healthy supply of places to stay, and Keystone short-term rentals certainly comprise a significant component in that regard. As a result, governmental bodies across Summit County are currently in an experimentation phase, enacting short-term rental rule changes in an effort to find the right balance between fostering increased local workforce housing while sustaining our vital tourism business. In turn, the regulatory landscape is quickly changing. As a resource for folks interested in potentially purchasing Keystone real estate and using their home to conduct short-term rentals in Keystone, my aim is to maintain this informational resource for learning more about Keystone short-term rental rules.

Keystone Short-Term Rentals
Property Owner FAQs

Which jurisdiction controls your Summit County short-term rental license?

The towns of Blue River, Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne have narrowly defined geographical borders.  Their rules obviously apply only to properties falling within their specific boundaries.  A surprising number of properties nearby to Blue River, Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne are actually outside official town borders and are instead located in unincorporated portions of  Summit County.  And, Summit County short-term rental rules differ significantly, dependent upon where a particular property is located.  As a result, it’s extremely important to understand which local governmental jurisdiction controls a potential short-term rental property in Summit County.

If you’re unsure whether a property is located within a particular town or instead in unincorporated Summit County, there’s a quick way to figure it out.

  1. Go online to the Summit County GIS tool
  2. Accept the County disclaimer.
  3. Enter the property address.
  4. Once the property appears at the bottom of the page, the bottom-left-corner field will say “Jurisdiction”.  It will tell you if the property is subject to the short-term rental rules of a specific town (Blue River, Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne) or instead if it is in unincorporated Summit County.

Image - Keystone Short-Term Rental Rules

What constitutes a short-term rental in Keystone?

Any Keystone Property Rental Less Than 30 Consecutive Days

Since Keystone falls within the jurisdiction of the Summit County government, we must turn to Summit County Short-Term Rental Ordinance No. 20-B, as amended by the Board pf County Commissioners ("BoCC") on November 23, 2021.

Section 1.1(b) of that Ordinance defines the term "short-term vacation rental property" to be "a residential dwelling unit, or any room therein, available for lease or exchange for a term of less than thirty (30) consecutive days...." Accordingly, the Keystone short-term rental rules seek to address the common scenario, where a Keystone property owner seeks to use popular platforms like AirBnb, VRbo and others to rent their home to tourists visiting for periods of less than 30 days. If you conduct any (even just one) rental of your Keystone property for a period of time less than 30 consecutive days, the prevailing rules that apply to Keystone require you to obtain a short-term rental license from Summit County, and you must follow all Summit County short-term rental rules that are applicable to your Keystone property.

If you're a Keystone property owner who only plans to conduct property rentals for periods of time that are thirty consecutive days long or greater, Ordinance 20-B has no application whatsoever. in that case, there is no need for you to apply for or obtain a Summit County short-term rental license for your Keystone property. Rentals longer than 30 consecutive days in length are generally considered long-term rentals. Long-term rentals rentals are encouraged, because they help provide housing to local employees. In fact, Summit County and the Town of Breckenridge actually provide incentives for long-term leases to locals. With that in mind, no new regulations or restrictions are currently contemplated for rentals over 30 days.

Keystone Short-Term Rental Rule Changes

The entirety of the Keystone area is part of unincorporated Summit County.  As a result, the controlling short-term rental ("STR") rules for Keystone are those promulgated by the Summit County Board of County Commissioners (“BoCC”).

Keystone Short-Term Rental Licenses
Responsible Agent | Occupancy Limit | No Cap

Several years ago, the Summit County Board of County Commissioners (“BoCC”) adopted  regulations requiring Keystone short-term rental property owners to obtain STR licenses.

Keystone Responsible Agent for Short-Term Rentals

As part of those short-term rental ("STR") license rules, the BoCC also adopted a Keystone Responsible Agent requirement. For Keystone, a Responsible Agent is defined as follows: "a person or company... [who] shall be available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to respond to potential issues and violations...." The BoCC established a Hotline to receive complaints that arise regarding Keystone short-term rental properties. When a member of the public submits an initial complaint concerning a Keystone short-term rental, it is directed to the Responsible Agent for the property at issue. And then, the Keystone Responsible Agent must be able to affirmatively respond to the complaint within one hour of notification. As part of their response, the Regulations also expressly require that the Responsible Agent shall "respond to the complaint, including visiting the site if necessary." If violations reported to the Hotline are not corrected or if there are repeat offenders, County staff will then pursue more formal action.

Keystone Short-Term Rental Occupancy Limit

The BoCC also added the following Keystone short-term rental occupancy limits:

  • Single family, duplex and townhome units: a) 2 persons per bedroom plus 4 additional occupants; OR b) 1 person per 200 square feet of living area, whichever allows for a greater occupancy
  • Condominium units: Either (a) or (b) below, whichever allows for a greater occupancy
    • a) 2 persons per bedroom plus 4 additional occupants, or 2 persons per bedroom plus 2 additional occupants in buildings with interior egress components less than 44 inches wide and without a sprinkler system; OR
    • b) 1 person per 200 square feet of living area

When a condominium unit contains a County-approved lock-off room that meets the definition of a lock-off room set forth in Chapter 15 of the Development Code, the lock-off room shall be allowed a total of 4 occupants.

  • Units w/ Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems ("OWTS"): the maximum overnight occupancy of the unit shall be limited to the capacity established on the OWTS permit. OWTS systems in Summit County are typically designed to accommodate a maximum occupancy of 2 persons per bedroom.

No Cap on Keystone Short-Term Rental Licenses

The BoCC declined to add a cap on the number of total number of allowable short-term rental licenses in Keystone. And, in that regard, it has never since added a cap of any type on the number of short-term licenses that the County will issue.

Nov. 2021
New Keystone Short-Term Rental License Rules

On November 23, 2021, the BoCC conducted a first reading of proposed legislative amendments that would create overlay zones and licensing types for short-term rental properties located in Summit County.  Based on community feedback, Summit County staff offered a Summit County Short-Term Rental presentation, which contained proposals for new Summit County STR license rules.  The BoCC adopted two types of overlay zones for Summit County short-term rentals. The first was called the Neighborhood Overlay Zone, but it does not apply to any properties located in Keystone.  The second is the Resort Overlay Zone, which applies to short-term rental properties located in Copper Mountain, Keystone and Tiger Run RV Resort plus the SkiWatch and 4 O'Clock neighborhoods in Breckenridge. Accordingly, all Keystone short-term rental properties fall within the Resort Overlay Zone created by Summit County.

Resort Overlay Zone for Keystone STR Licenses

Summit County staff reported to BoCC that there are areas across Summit  County that have historically been used as and, to some extent, intended for short-term vacation rental occupancy in a resort context. These areas have amenities to support tourists and also have intense STR use.  As a result, STR complaints from the public are relatively low in these resort areas,  More specifically, although the preceding resort areas account for 65% of all STRs in Summit County, only 14% of all complaints to the STR Hotline came from resort areas.  Additionally, local ownership in these resort zones is relatively low; only 10% of the owners of the units in the Resort Overlay Zone have a mailing address in Summit County.  Overall, Summit County staff estimated that STRs account for approximately 41% of all housing units in the Resort Overlay Zone. In light of the preceding, BoCC designated the Summit County Resort Overlay Zone to include all of Copper Mountain, Keystone and Tiger Run RV Resort plus the SkiWatch and 4 O'Clock neighborhoods in Breckenridge.

For short-term rental properties located in Keystone, there is one type of short-term rental license: the Resort Short-Term Rental License.  Essentially, the original STR regulations adopted in 2018 will apply to the Resort Short-Term Rental License.  Accordingly, if a unit has a Resort Short-Term Rental License, there are no limits on the number of nights that it can potentially be rented.  Additionally, the current Responsible Agent requisites and occupancy limits will remain the same.

Toward the end of 2021, the BoCC also adopted new fees for Keystone short-term rental licenses. The Resort Zone STR License fee for Keystone properties are $250. If you had an existing active Keystone STR license as of December 16, 2021, your current license will be converted to a Resort Short-Term Rental License during renewal in September 2022.

May 24, 2022 to Feb. 23, 2023
Keystone Short-Term Rentals Unaffected by 9-Month Moratorium

On May 24, 2022, the BoCC conducted a public hearing that started with County Staff presenting a Summit County Short-Term Rental Data Update.  Despite their own past efforts to address loss of local workforce housing, the BoCC concluded that STRs in the Neighborhood Overlay Zone would continue to increase in 2022, unless it took action.  Even though the BoCC enacted new Summit County STR policy in the fall of 2021, the County represented that the number of STR licenses had nonetheless significantly increased in the Neighborhood Overlay Zone.  As a result, the BoCC passed Resolution 2022-36, and it took effect immediately on May 24. The chief focus of the Resolution was to create a 9-month moratorium on new short-term rental licenses issued in the Neighborhood Overlay Zone from May 24, 2022 to Feb. 23, 2023.

It’s important to reiterate that the 9-month STR moratorium only applies to new licenses in the Neighborhood Overlay Zone in Summit County.  Because Keystone is located in the Resort Overlay Zone, the 9-month moratorium does not affect any past, present or future STR licenses in Keystone.

Summary of Keystone Short-Term Rental Rules

The entire Keystone area is part of unincorporated Summit County.  As a result, the controlling short-term rental rules for Keystone are those promulgated by the Summit County Board of County Commissioners.

All Keystone short-term rental property owners must apply for STR licenses through Summit County. While operating a Keystone short-term rental, property owners must designate a Responsible Agent, and there are also occupancy limits by which Keystone short-term rental owners must abide.

Summit County government determined that all of Keystone lies within an area historically used for short-term vacation rental occupancy in a resort context and thereby determined that Keystone is located in the Resort Overlay Zone.  Because of Keystone is located within the Resort Overlay Zone, the 9-month moratorium on issuance of new short-term rental licenses in parts of Summit County does not apply to Keystone short-term rental licenses.  At this time. Summit County continues to receive, evaluate and process new Keystone short-term rental license applications.  Additionally, there is no cap on the number of Keystone short-term rental licenses that Summit County will issue.

Once a Keystone short-term rental owner obtains a STR license, there are also no limits on the number of rental nights for Keystone short-term rentals.  Due to its designation within the Resort Overlay Zone, the County permits Keystone short-term rental owners a potentially unlimited number of rental days in any calendar year.

Need Help Understanding Keystone Short-Term Rentals?

If you’re interested in further discussing local real estate and how STR license changes might potentially affect your decision to buy or sell a property in Keystone, please don’t hesitate to contact Philip for help.  After all, if you made it to this point, you’ll agree I’ve written "the book" when it comes to Keystone short-term rental rules!