As part of Driggs’ quest to get a better handle on the short-term vacation rentals operating within city limits, last week Driggs City Council decided to subscribe to a service that promises to find every short-term rental posted on the Internet.
Host Compliance, a software service based out of Washington, trawls almost 50 short-term rental sites continuously and delivers data on the location, size, and type of rentals available in a municipality. The annual cost of the basic subscription Driggs signed up for depends on the number of rentals but is estimated at $6,641. The software will be paid for with resort taxes. Mayor Hyrum Johnson said the council will have the opportunity to review its contract next year and decide to renew if the service meets expectations.
Councilman Ralph Mossman wondered if it wouldn’t be cheaper to hire someone locally to check those sites.
“The reality is that we’ve tried for over two years to wrap our heads around this,” Johnson responded. “We feel this is a reasonable cost for what we’re getting.”
AirBNB and VRBO are now required by law to collect and remit state and city lodging taxes, but the mayor pointed out that there are rentals posted on other sites. Also the city loses out on business registration fees when rental operations don’t register. At its next meeting, the city will review a proposed fee increase from $50 to $80 for new businesses and from $25 to $50 for renewals (while still waiving the renewal fee for businesses that do so online before a certain date).
While the city has around 25 short-term rentals registered as businesses, Johnson said that in a trial run, Host Compliance reported finding over 100 definite rentals and another 100 possible ones. After a long search, the city has just hired a code enforcement officer so it now has the ability to follow up on the data that Host Compliance gathers on short-term rentals.
It’s not just about the money though; Johnson said that understanding how many short-term rentals are operating in the city will help the staff address issues like planning and zoning, taxes, and affording housing.