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Short-Term Rental Phenomena Comes to Zapata

Today’s traveling experience and options have changed dramatically over the last five years. However, recent disruptions caused by the explosion of new entrants into the Short-Term Rental (STRs) market are physically being felt right next door and causing problems with many HOA’s, including here, in the Zapata.For rent graphic

As tourists to Colorado increasingly turn to STR’s for temporary accommodation, this growing trend is presenting a significant challenge to many HOA’s whose volunteers serve on their boards. Such volunteer run institutions were not designed to govern their associations based on issues connected with hotel-like lodging transactions, especially in private residential communities. As might be imagined this type of transaction within a HOA governed community can present security, safety and especially, privacy concerns for community members. As well, such important shifts in basic HOA governing functions can constitute violations of a community’s governing documents.

In Colorado, generally, you live in an area that is attractive to tourists. Your HOA board has taken up the issue of how it is going to handle the Short-Term Rental phenomenon and what it might mean to full-time owner-residents in coming years. Sites like Airbnb, Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO), FlipKey, HomeAway, and Roomorama tout the fact that they are innovators in online vacation property rentals and market that their strengths lie in their community-based approaches. To be sure, it’s an attractive sounding option to potential renters but what do long-term property owners feel about sharing their residential community with increasing numbers of outsiders.

These visitors need accommodations for their overnight stays. More and more are turning to using alternatives other than hotels, motels and such, so emerging alternatives that many visitors choose to use are short-term rentals (STR’s) offered by private property owners. For private property owners whose residence is a standalone, depending on what governmental entity it is located, they are generally free to do what they want. Some local governments have adopted local ordinances governing STR rentals. (The city of Alamosa has a specific policy.) However, for the Zapata Homeowners Association, such short-term rentals are not prohibited or permitted, and rentals are only governed by a limited, specific rule.

While some members in our HOA may be celebrating their newfound ability to monetize their real estate assets, the Zapata board has determined that existing restrictions on rentals are insufficient to govern the growing tide of Zapata owners utilizing short-term rental services like Airbnb.

In order to help make decisions going forward the Zapata HOA will be conducting an online survey of the membership to find out how property owners feel about the proliferation of Short-Term Rentals, if they should be allowed, and if allowed, what restrictions can and should be put on them. This survey will soon be posted in the forum on the website. Until the poll is posted, please join the discussion on the member forum.