Southwest Colorado County to crack down on vacation rentals

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DURANGO | Colorado officials have announced plans to ensure visitors renting private homes pay lodging and sales taxes as they would if they stayed in a hotel.

Residents in La Plata County must get a Colorado business license for short-term rentals, but not everyone complies with the rules, The Durango Herald reported Tuesday.

More than 1,200 short-term rentals were estimated in the county in November.

Vacation home rentals averaged about $86 a night for a private room on Airbnb to about $361 a night for a house with four-plus bedrooms on VRBO. The rentals generated about $1.2 million, a report said.

The county estimates collecting about $370,000 in taxes, but there is no way to know how exactly many rentals exist or how much tax money is being lost, officials said. The city of Durango has only approved and permitted 144 rentals, officials said.

City officials are allowed to fine residents who rent a home without permission, but most stop accepting visitors soon after receiving a violation notice, officials said. County officials say the only way to regulate rentals is through taxes.

Officials are concerned houses built for long-term residency may pose health and safety issues when used for short-term rentals, including damage to wastewater treatment systems.

The county commission is expected to determine what, if any, regulations should be implemented, officials said.