Wildernest Short-Term Rental Rules

Image - Wildernest 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 Wildernest 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 Wildernest real estate and using their home to conduct short-term rentals in Wildernest, my aim is to maintain this informational resource for learning more about Wildernest short-term rental rules.

Wildernest Short Term Rental Rules
Feb. 16, 2023 Update

Changes to Wildernest Short-Term Rental Regulations

An important thing to understand at the outset is that none of the County's short-term rental rules apply to your property, if it is located within the boundaries of a local town, like Blue River, Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco or Silverthorne.  Here's a helpful FAQ that will help you determine which short-term rental regulations potentially apply to a specific Summit County property.

Since creating a 9-month short-term rental moratorium for Wildernest in May 2022, the Summit County Board of County Commissioners (“County”) has been working on new Wildernest short-term rental regulations.  At a recent meeting on January 24, 2023, the County released a Staff Presentation on Summit County Short-Term Rental Regulations.  In February 2023, the County released a lengthy document, outlining its proposal for new short-term rental license caps and limits on short-term rental bookings in the Summit County Neighborhood Overlay Zone.  On February 15, 2023, the County acted to finalize and adopt these Wildernest short-term rental license rule changes.

To review, the County previously created two overlay zones for all areas of Summit County.

  • The County designated limited areas in unincorporated Summit County to become part of a Resort Overlay Zone, which included all of Copper Mountain, Keystone and Tiger Run RV Resort plus the SkiWatch and 4 O'Clock neighborhoods in Breckenridge.
  • All other areas in unincorporated Summit County were designated to be part of a Residential Overlay Zone.

Summit County Resort Zone for STR Licenses

The upcoming Summit County short-term rental regulations do not generally affect the Resort Zone. As such, the County will continue to issue new short-term rental licenses to any Summit County property located in the Resort Zone that allow for unlimited short-term rental nights.

Summit County Residential Zone for STR Licenses

The regulations, adopted on Feb. 15, 2023, have three significant ramifications for the issuance of new short-term rental licenses in the Summit County Residential Zone.

Cap on Issuance of Wildernest Short-Term Rental Licenses

First, the County implemented total cap numbers on the issuance of new short-term rental licenses in the Summit County Residential Zone.  The entirety of the Summit County  Residential Zone is located within one of four basins as depicted in this map. The County has preliminarily proposed different short-term rental license caps for properties located in each of the four basins.  Within each of the four basins, the number of active short-term rental licenses already exceeds the proposed cap numbers.  Accordingly, until the total number of licenses falls below the adopted cap number through natural attrition, the County will not issue new short-term rental licenses in the Residential Zone. Natural attrition generally occurs when property owners with existing short-term rental licenses either: (1) do not renew their existing short-term rental license; or (2) sell their property to a third-party (such a sale extinguishes an existing license). In sum, Summit County short-term rental caps were established as per the chart in the preceding link, and it appears that no new short-term rental licenses will be issued in the Summit County Residential Zone until sometime in 2025 (at the earliest).

Cap on Number of Annual Wildernest Short-Term Rental Bookings

Second, for all property owners in the Residential Zone who possess a Summit County short-term rental license, they will be limited to a total of 35 short-term rental bookings per year.  With this new booking cap in place, the length of any individual rental stay will be left to discretion of the short-term rental property property owner.  However, to adjust to the County's new booking cap, it's possible that many Summit County short-term rental license holders will require longer minimum stays.

Temporary Elimination of Type III Short-Term Rental License in Wildernest

For now, the County also eliminated the Type III Short-Term Rental License that afforded unlimited short-term rental nights to certain Wildernest properties located in the Residential Zone.  However, while it couldn't do so at the meeting on Feb. 15, 2023, the County did pledge to revisit Type III short-term rental licenses in the near future.  The hope is that the County will find a way to reinstate a license with unlimited rental nights to properties that were originally designed with a main purpose of of having short-term rental occupancies.

I wanted to get this important new information posted as quickly as possible.  I will update the remainder of the page as soon as possible. 

Wildernest 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 - Wildernest Short-Term Rental Rules

What constitutes a short-term rental in Wildernest?

Any Wildernest Property Rental Less Than 30 Consecutive Days

Since Wildernest 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 Wildernest short-term rental rules seek to address the common scenario,  where a Wildernest 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 Wildernest property for a period of time less than 30 consecutive days, the prevailing rules that apply to Wildernest 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 Wildernest property.

If you're a Wildernest 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 Wildernest 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.

Wildernest Short-Term Rental Rule Changes

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

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

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

Wildernest Responsible Agent for Short-Term Rentals

As part of those short-term rental ("STR") license rules, the BoCC also adopted a Wildernest Responsible Agent requirement.  For Wildernest, 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 Wildernest short-term rental properties. When a member of the public submits an initial complaint concerning a Wildernest short-term rental, it is directed to the Responsible Agent for the property at issue. And then, the Wildernest 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.

Wildernest Short-Term Rental Occupancy Limit

The BoCC also added the following Wildernest 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 Wildernest Short-Term Rental Licenses

The BoCC declined to add a cap on the number of total number of allowable short-term rental licenses in Wildernest. 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.

Sept. 17, 2021 to Dec. 16, 2021
90-Day Moratorium on Wildernest Short-Term Rental Licenses

In the fall of 2021, the BoCC conducted meetings to hear public comment and discuss solutions to the local housing crisis.  On September 14, 2021, the BoCC passed a temporary 90-day moratorium on new Wildernest short-term rental licenses.  STR license renewals and conversions were unaffected.  The BOCC’s 90-day STR license moratorium wholly excluded the Keystone, Copper Mountain and Peak 8 resort areas.  The BOCC’s short-term license moratorium for Wildernest took effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2021 and thereafter ended on December 16, 2021.  During that temporary moratorium, the BoCC and County staff pledged to examine data with the aim of proposing narrow regulatory amendments that will prevent the continuing loss of long-term housing units.

Nov. 2021
Creation of Wildernest Short-Term Rental License Types

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 is the Resort Overlay Zone, but it only applies to STR properties located in Copper Mountain, Keystone and Tiger Run RV Resort plus the SkiWatch and 4 O'Clock neighborhoods in Breckenridge. The second is the Neighborhood Overlay Zone, and it applies to all Wildernest short-term rental properties.

Neighborhood Overlay Zone for Wildernest STR Licenses

The Neighborhood Overlay Zone essentially encompasses all other properties in unincorporated Summit County that are not located in the Resort Overlay Zone.  County staff reported to BoCC that these areas were not developed as resort neighborhoods. While some individual homes may have been designed or purchased with an intent towards STR use, the BoCC found that the neighborhoods themselves were not developed to support intense, hotel-like STR use with tourist amenities.  Additionally, incidences of complaints are relatively high when compared to the Resort Zone, demonstrating tension between traditional neighborhood uses and STRs.

For Wildernest short-term rental properties, there will be three different Neighborhood Overlay Zone license types:

Type I Short-Term Rental License in Wildernest

This license type may only be obtained by a Wildernest homeowner who uses the property as their primary residence. A Type I License is for a property owner who rents a bedroom in their Wildernest home throughout the year or rents their Wildernest home as an entire unit when they go on vacation.  When the Wildernest property owner is present and offering a bedroom for rent, there will be no limit on the number of nights that the bedroom may be rented annually. When the Wildernest property owner is not present and chooses to rent the entire home, 60 nights per year will be the allowable limit.

Type II Short-Term Rental License in Wildernest

This license type is targeted toward second-homeowners who want to use their Wildernest property and short-term rent it.  With that said, a Wildernest local who uses the property as their primary residence but wishes to rent their entire home in excess of 60 nights, could apply for this license type.  A Type II License will allow Wildernest owners to rent their Wildernest property for up to 135 nights a year, while using it for themselves the rest of the year.  County staff anticipates that the vast majority of STRs in the Neighborhood Zone would fall under this license type.

Type III Short-Term Rental License in Wildernest

The County sees this license type as most appropriate for investment property STRs.  They are typically rented in excess of 135 nights per year, and the County sees them as more akin to commercial lodging businesses.  Wildernest owners, who want unlimited short-term rentals (or anything in excess of 135 nights per year), will first have to apply for a Conditional Use Permit ("CUP").  To obtain a CUP, the BoCC established the following minimum standards needed to obtaining approval:

  • Owners of Wildernest single family homes must show the following to obtain a CUP:
    • Separation from occupied spaces of at least 100 feet separation, as measured between closest points, between all indoor/outdoor occupied spaces. Occupied spaces includes fire pits, hot tub, residences, but will not include sheds or detached garages; OR
    • The single family home must have an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in compliance with County code
    • If lot is smaller than 40,000 sq ft, it goes through the Conditional Use Permit Class 4 process, reviewed by the County Planning Commission. Occupancy is 2 persons per bedroom plus 2 total additional persons
    • If lot is bigger than 40,000 sq ft, it will go through the CUP class 2 process reviewed by County staff.  Occupancy is 2 per bedroom plus 2 but can apply for additional occupancy if it goes through the Class 4 review process
  • Owners of Multi-family properties in Wildernest must have all of the following to obtain a CUP:
    • Direct shuttle to ski area(s) or transit stop within 100’ from property
    • Substantial Recreation-Based Shared Amenities, 3 of the following: Pool, hot tub, sauna, tennis / pickle ball courts, game room, or other substantial amenity as approved by the Review Authority
    • A minimum of 100 units in the HOA
    • Occupancy maximum will be 2 guests per bedroom plus 2 persons

As of the time of this writing, the County does not maintain lists of Wildernest multi-family properties that have been pre-determined to meet the preceding three requirements for shuttles, amenities and minimum number of units; instead, each applicant must produce corresponding proof regarding the three requisites while submitting a CUP for a Wildernest multi-family property.

The Wildernest STR CUP process usually takes about 2-4 weeks (although that is always subject to change).  Once a Wildernest property owner receives approval of their CUP application, they may then apply for and obtain a Type III short-term rental license.

Dec. 2021
Formal Adoption of Wildernest STR License Rules

On December 16, 2021, the BoCC conducted a second reading of its new short-term rental ordinance.  After listening to several hours of public comment, the BoCC voted on and adopted the final version of its various short-term rental amendments. If you had an active Wildernest STR license or applied for a Wildernest STR license before the new regulations were adopted on December 16, 2021, you will have until September 2025 to convert your current Wildernest STR license to one of the preceding three new license types.  With that said, a Wildernest STR property owner could also elect to convert during any renewal period prior to 2025.

Last but not least, the BoCC adopted new fees for short-term rental licenses, which are as follows:

  • Neighborhood Zone, Type I STR License: $200
  • Neighborhood Zone, Type II STR License: $300
  • Neighborhood Zone, Type III STR License: $100 (does not include STR CUP fee - see below)
  • Pre-existing STR License Renewal: $500

The filing fee for a STR CUP is $200 (above and beyond the STR license fee).  As previously noted above, an STR CUP is required for all Type III STR licenses in the Residential Zone.

May 24, 2022 to Feb. 23, 2023
9-Month Moratorium on new Wildernest Short-Term Rental Licenses

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.  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 Wildernest short-term rental licenses from May 24, 2022 to Feb. 23, 2023.

As provided on its STR Moratorium page, the County explained the purpose of the moratorium as follows:

[to] allow staff time to propose new regulations to address the increase in STRs in the Neighborhood Overlay Zone and their impact on local workforce housing, as well as to address inconsistencies and conflicts within the Land Use and Development Code (“Code”) regarding commercial lodging operations and short-term vacation rentals.

It’s important to reiterate that the 9-month STR moratorium only applies to the issuance of new Wildernest STR licenses.  As such, the moratorium does not affect:

  • Any already-existing STR licenses for Wildernest properties. All current STR license holders can continue forward as permitted by the terms of their existing license;
  • Any pending Wildernest STR license applications that were submitted prior to 3:35PM MT on May 24, 2022; or
  • Any Wildernest STR license renewals.

The County created a process for requesting a Special Exception to the 9-Month STR Moratorium, but it only applies in the following two circumstances:

  1. Property Under Construction To qualify as an owner of a property under construction, you must have passed a Foundation Wall inspection from the Building Inspection Department prior to or within 30 days of the enactment of the moratorium; or
  2. Property Under Contract To qualify, you must have been under contract on a property prior to May 25, 2022

The Special Exception process includes an application that can be submitted at a cost of $780, and it closes on June 23, 2022.  In sum, Wildernest falls within the Neighborhood Overlay Zone; consequently, with the preceding limited exceptions, no Wildernest property owner can obtain a new Summit County short-term rental license until the moratorium ends on Feb. 23, 2023.

Summary of Key Wildernest Short-Term Rental Rules

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

All Wildernest short-term rental property owners must apply for STR licenses through Summit County.  Because Wildernest is in the Neighborhood Overlay Zone, there are three types of short-term rental licenses available.  Based on the type of property involved, the license types vary in the number of allowable rental nights per year.

While operating a Wildernest short-term rental, property owners must designate a Responsible Agent, and there are also occupancy limits by which Wildernest short-term rental owners must abide.

There is no cap on the number of short-term rental licenses that Summit County will issue in Wildernest.

With all of the preceding said, there is currently a 9-Month moratorium in effect on new Wildernest short-term rental licenses that ends on Feb. 23, 2023.

Need Help Understanding Wildernest 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 Wildernest, 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 Wildernest short-term rental rules!