A 2020 report revealed that between February of 2019 and February of 2020, there were over 800 short-term rentals in operation in Teton County, Idaho, which is around 14 percent of the housing units in the county.
The study, a capstone project by a University of Colorado Denver graduate student in the College of Architecture and Planning, covers Teton County, Idaho and Wyoming, and was prepared for Valley Advocates for Responsible Development and the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance. The study’s source is AirDNA, a site that collects short-term rental data from the two most popular vacation rental listing sites, Airbnb and VRBO.
In order to accommodate for the seasonal nature of short-term rental demand in the Tetons, the study used both an annual metric from February 2019 to February 2020 and data from the month of February 2020. It showed that there were a total of 2,575 properties in both counties that were listed for rent at some point during the study period, with 842 of those in Jackson.
In Teton County, Idaho, most listings are full homes, generally with two or three bedrooms; around 370 properties were active rentals for less than 180 days per year (meaning the homeowner or long-term tenants may have occupied those properties for part of the year), while 472 were available for over 180 days per year.
According to the American Community Survey, in the same time frame there were approximately 5,959 housing units total in Teton County, Idaho. AirDNA revealed that the median rent (as of last February) in the community is $826 per month, the median mortgage is $1,547, and the average short-term rental income is $2,920 per month.
“These high profits make renting a property to short-term tourists more lucrative compared to renting the properties to long-term tenants,” reads the report.
It notes that while short-term rentals increase revenues for property owners and bring tourist dollars into the area, they may also decrease the available housing stock for permanent or long-term residents. In recent years, there hasn’t been enough rental inventory to meet the demand for people seeking homes, especially in the summer. This in turn can impact businesses who are short on employees.
While the threat of Covid shut down many short-term rentals in the early months of the pandemic, AirDNA reported in August of 2020 that the sector rebounded quickly and is at nearly the same revenue per available room as in the previous year. “As early as late March [of 2020], travel-hungry tourists began flocking to rural drive-to getaways throughout the world.”
Last month, AirDNA reported that from January through June of 2020, Airbnb lost 5 percent of its total listings, but has since recovered and grown another 2.5 percent on top of pre-pandemic levels.
The study had a few policy recommendations directed at Teton County, Idaho, and its cities, because Teton County, Wyoming, has a more established set of regulations regarding short-term rentals. Idaho does not allow the prohibition of short-term rentals or regulations except to protect public health and safety, but the study did suggest that the local land development codes should include a definition of short-term rental properties and identify them as a conditional use, which a property owner would have to seek through the planning and zoning public hearing process.
Victor and Driggs both levy an additional 3 percent local lodging tax on short-term rentals, which is collected by the listing companies and remitted to the cities. They also charge business license fees for the rental owners who choose to seek a license, but the cities have limited resources to bring under-the-radar rentals into compliance. Driggs currently monitors its short-term rentals, a step that the study recommends the county and Victor also look into. Teton County has no licensing or lodging tax. Tetonia has very few vacation rentals within city limits, so the study made no recommendations directed specifically at the north end.