Aurora settles on policy for AirBNB-style rentals

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AURORA | Aurora is moving closer to having an official policy for residents who rent out their homes using services such as Airbnb. That policy would require homeowners to obtain business licenses and pay municipal lodger’s tax. It would also require landlords to own and live in the properties they rent.

The measure would require all vacation rental hosts with an Aurora address to apply for a $38 Aurora business license and collect an 8-percent lodger’s tax from each guest they host.

“We heard hotels are concerned about B&Bs (bed and breakfasts) taking business away from them,” said Trevor Vaughn, manger of the city’s tax and licensing division. “They want equal footing in the collection of lodger’s tax.”

Last November, the city issued its first vacation rental business license to Saurabh Chawla, an active Airbnb host who was barred from renting out his home after a neighbor complained about the amount of people frequently coming in and out of his east Aurora home.

Vaughn said five homes have been licensed for short-term rentals since then, but that the city has not been actively seeking out homeowners who use Airbnb and requiring them to obtain business licenses. 

“We’re mostly reactive at this point,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn said the rules proposed for homeowners using Airbnb are the same for other home-based business. Those rules require resident to occupy 75 percent or more of a home, with businesses only being allowed to take up to 25 percent of a home. 

Aurora officials are also looking to require residents to include a business license number as part of their Airbnb listing.   

They say they would allow residents to advertise without the license numbers if they can come to an agreement with Airbnb to collect lodger’s tax at the point of sale. Airbnb has so far not responded to city requests about an official agreement, according to city documents. Airbnb also did not respond to emails from The Aurora Sentinel requesting a comment on whether or not they would work with The City of Aurora to collect a municipal sales tax via their site.

Aurora City Council’s Planning and Economic Development Policy Committee reviewed the measure earlier this month and decided to move it to the full Aurora City Council to review at a study session in May.

“Whatever process council comes up with, I want to make it simple enough so people will get a license,” said Aurora City Councilwoman Marsha Berzins, a member of the committee.

“I don’t want it so the average person can’t follow the rules, but I want it to protect the hotels and neighbors.”

City officials say the measure would not apply to rentals longer than 30 days. Those rentals are only required to be reported on a landlord’s tax returns.

As of April, 91 Aurora homes were listed on Airbnb.

Denver City Council will also consider a similar measure for short-term rentals in May. According to The Denver Post, that measure has received pushback from Denver residents who say they use second homes to make extra money.

— Sentinel staff writer Quincy Snowdon contributed to this story.