Short term rentals, also known as vacation rentals by owner (VRBO) are property rentals less than 30 days. Buying a home as a short term rental is a great opportunity to make some additional income especially in the Grand Valley which is becoming more of a tourist destination. Tourist are flocking to the area to enjoy wine country in Palisade, mountain biking in Fruita, and events in Grand Junction.
According to Airdna, there are currently around 300 active rentals in the Grand Valley. 60% of those are listed on the Airbnb platform. The average house size is 2 bedrooms with 5.5 guests staying at one time.
Short Term Rental Guidelines
The short term market is regulated by the county with additional layers of rules set by the city and homeowner’s associations. Guidelines are constantly changing, so please look to the city and county websites to view the most up to date requirements.
Mesa County – Vacation rentals whether a private residence or individual room shall be subject to a site plan review. Only structures permitted for residential occupancy qualify. Tents, RVs, and temporary shelters are not allowed. There are also requirements for parking spaces, bathing facilities, and are subject to all applicable safety and health inspections, licenses, registrations, fees and taxes to which other licensed businesses or places of accommodation are subject. Visit the Mesa County website for additional rules and regulations.
Grand Junction – As of November 2020, the city charges a one-time application fee of $160 to obtain a short term rental permit. The occupancy of a short term rental shall not exceed two persons per bedroom plus two additional renters, including the operator. The property must have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, adequate egress for each sleeping room, and signage with notices such as location on exits, fire extinguishers, quiet hours, and trash disposal directions to just name a few. See more information about Grand Junction short term rentals.
Fruita – As of November 2020, the city of Fruita allows VRBO’s. The Fruita Land Use Code defines a VRBO as a Bed & Breakfast. There are some requirements for Bed & Breakfast businesses depending on the zone where it will be located. Most residential zones require approval of a Conditional Use Permit before the business becomes operational and approval from the homeowners association (if there is one) also is required. The Fruita City Council determines whether or not to approve a Conditional Use Permit through the public hearing process.
To start the Conditional Use Permit process, contact the Fruita Community Development Department at 858-0786 or 325 E. Aspen Avenue. All Bed & Breakfast businesses require a City of Fruita Business License and are required to pay sales and lodging tax. The regulations applicable to Bed & Breakfast businesses can be found on the city’s website at (see pages 17-18).
Palisade – As of November 2020, only 3% of the total number of single family homes may be designated as vacation rentals which equates out to about 54 homes. There is currently a waitlist for owners wanting to do short term rentals in Palisade. Other notable requirements include not having identifying signage on the property, quiet hours shall be from 10pm to 7am, and there are restrictions on the number of both daytime and nighttime visitors. See more information about the Palisade vacation rentals.
Managing Your Short Term Rental
Scheduling Platform – Airbnb or VRBO are the two most well known platforms used to manage these short term rentals. They allow rentals on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. The rentals just be furnished and the money collection is handled with the platform
Insurance – Most of the rental platforms offers some liability insurance, but it is not enough to cover the entire home if it burns down to a guest leaving a candle burning. Property owner’s need to contact their insurance provider to make sure they are properly covered.
These are a few amenities that guests typically desire when staying at a Airbnb.
Wifi – More of the workforce is working on the road, so people expect their vacation rental to have decent internet. One tip is to take a screenshot of internet speeds so guests can know what to expect.
Cleanliness – With COVID people are more conscious of a clean home, so it is important to convey the steps that you are taking to keep your home clean and safe.
Parking – Guests expect to have at least one free parking space and in Mesa County there are requirements regarding parking. Also, having a place for bicycle storage is a desirable amenity for homes in the Grand Valley.
Pets – Allowing pets is a need among renters, so your property will stand out if you allow pets. Currently there isn’t a way to charge additional for pets through the main scheduling platforms, so it will usually will need to be done on site. Also, check with the local regulations regarding pets and certain types of breeds.
Pros and Cons of Short Term Rentals
The short term rental market can be lucrative if you have the right property, marketing, and amenities. It can be exiting meeting new people and the guests are usually excited to be staying at your house. With short term rentals generally you don’t have to deal with tenants not being able to pay their bills and evictions. Since the home is cleaned more frequently there is typically less wear and tear, so the home staying looking new.
On the flip side, guests aren’t generally screened so you don’t truly know who is staying in your home. Neighbors may complain about the constant stream of guests or loud noises. It can also take more time constantly responding to guest inquiries and if an item is broken it generally needs to be fixed right away. Vacation rental owners have to stay up on all the laws and restrictions which are constantly changing. Also, some homes are just more profitable than others and until you get going it might be hard to know what your potential income could be. A knowledgeable real estate agent can help guide you in the right direction to find a property that will hopefully be profitable.