Short-Term Dwelling and Vacation Rental Licensing
Indian Peaks landscape.

Due to COVID-19, the Community Planning & Permitting Department is conducting business and providing services virtually. Our physical office in Boulder is currently CLOSED to the public.

Short-Term Dwelling and Vacation Rental Licensing

Licensing

A local license issued by Boulder County Community Planning & Permitting is required to operate any Short-Term Rental in unincorporated Boulder County. A Short-Term Rental (such as VRBO or Airbnb) is a rental that is offered to a single booking party for a rental duration of fewer than 30 days at a time. Boulder County does not issue licenses for the incorporated towns and cities (e.g., Boulder, Nederland) located in Boulder County.

Determine which process and license is right for you

There are two types of Short-Term Dwelling Rental Licenses depending on the type of rental property the owner wants to operate:

  1. A Short-Term Rental License is required for:
    • Primary Dwelling Short-Term Rental – A single-family dwelling unit offering lodging accommodations to a single booking party at a time within that dwelling unit for a rental duration of fewer than 30 days where the dwelling unit is the primary residence of the owner.
    • Secondary Dwelling Short-Term Rental – A single-family dwelling unit offering lodging accommodations to a single booking party at a time within that dwelling unit for a rental duration of fewer than 30 days where:
      • The dwelling unit is not the primary residence of the owner;
      • The dwelling unit is rented 60 days per year or less; and
      • The dwelling unit is rented with a two-night stay minimum.
  2. A Vacation Rental License is required for:
    • Vacation Rental* – A single-family dwelling unit offering lodging accommodations to a single booking party at a time within that dwelling unit for a rental duration of fewer than 30 days where:
      • The dwelling unit is not the primary residence of the owner; and
      • The dwelling unit is rented more than 60 days per year.

*Please note: Vacation Rentals are allowed in the F, A, RR, and MI zoning districts provided they are on unsubdivided land. In other words, Vacation Rentals are not allowed in subdivisions. You may Ask a Planner if you are unsure whether you are in a Subdivision. Vacation Rentals are also allowed in B, Cl, LI, and GI zoning districts.

Property owners who would like to have a Secondary Dwelling Short-Term Rental or a Vacation Rental will need to go through the appropriate review and approval process as required by and outlined in the Boulder County Land Use Code (Articles 4-507 and 4-516, see Resolution 2020-104) prior to being eligible to apply for a Short-Term Dwelling Rental License. Property owners who have received approval to run a Short-Term Rental prior to February 8, 2021 and are operating within the terms of that approval will not need to go through an additional land use review process but will still need to apply for a license.

Please use this tool to help determine which process and license is right for you.

Boulder County Short-Term Dwelling Rental Licensing Regulations

Fees

  • Short-Term Rental License (Primary and Secondary Dwelling Short-Term Rentals): $200.00 initially, $175.00 renewal
  • Vacation Rental License (Vacation Rentals): $300.00 initially, $275.00 renewal

A $50.00 discount is given on renewals when there are no confirmed violations during the License Period (of two years).

Application and Application Checklists

Guidelines For Rental Properties

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Participation in Wildfire Partners is required for Short-Term Rentals and Vacation Rentals that are located in Fire Zone 1.Map of Wildfire Zones 1 and 2 in Boulder County

  • For Primary Dwelling and Secondary Dwelling Short-Term Rentals, Wildfire Partners Certification is required at the first license renewal, after the first two years of operation.
  • For Vacation Rentals, it is required prior to issuance of a license.

Contact Wildfire Partners directly for more information about mitigation requirements.

More information on wildfire mitigation:

  • Fire Zones Map
  • Wildfire Partners
  • How to Apply for Certification
  • After you Apply: Once you apply and submit your digital waiver, email Abby Silver at asilver@bouldercounty.org to schedule your assessment. Assessments are typically scheduled within 2-3 weeks and a report with property-specific requirements that must be completed for certification is usually sent within ten days of the assessment. The time and costs involved for certification are dependent on the type and number of requirements identified at assessment.
  • Wildfire Partners assessments or certificates from previous years: Any assessment or certificate from 2014 to the present will be accepted. You will not be asked to provide a copy as County staff will verify.

For modifications to existing licenses, including changes in property ownership, relevant application information regarding the proposed changes must be submitted for review to the Community Planning & Permitting Department. The proposal may be subject to the requirements under Section 4: Licensing Procedure of the Licensing Ordinance, up to and including re-application. To submit a modification request, or for questions, please contact Boulder County Licensing at strlicensing@bouldercounty.org or 303-441-3930.

A certified Radon Measurement Professional must complete radon testing prior to issuance of a license for all short-term rentals. Please contact the Public Health Department for more information and questions.

More information on radon testing:

Yes. All Short-Term Rentals within the unincorporated Boulder County must now be licensed, regardless of a prior Limited Impact Special Use Review or Waiver (LU or LUW) approval. Previously approved short-term rentals must continue to abide by the conditions of approval listed in the Board of County Commissioner’s Resolution for their LU or Determination Letter for their LUW and must also abide by the requirements in the Licensing Ordinance, many of which overlap. When applying for a new Short-Term Rental or Vacation Rental License with a previous approval, the LU or LUW docket number (e.g., LU-01-0123) must be provided.

More information regarding previous approvals:

Primary and Secondary Dwelling Short-Term Rentals are allowed on subdivided land (i.e., within a platted subdivision), but Vacation Rentals are not. To confirm if your property is in fact located in one of these subdivided areas, please see our list of platted subdivisions below. Another way to check is by looking at the legal description of the property that is included on the deed. Subdivided land typically has a legal description similar to Lot 1 Block 2 Subdivision Name (e.g., Lot 43 Pine Brook Hills or Lot 3 Block 5 Heatherwood).

More information regarding subdivided/platted land:

Enforcement

In order to give the public time to apply for a License, and CP&P staff time to work through implementation, CP&P staff will not begin active enforcement until at least June 5, 2021. Additionally, CP&P staff will not actively enforce against any property otherwise legally compliant with zoning and in which there are not immediate health and safety concerns where the property owner has submitted a request for a pre-application conference, application for zoning review, or a License application by June 5, 2021.

Questions or Complaints

Before giving us a call, please check out the FAQs above.

If you have questions or complaints regarding the licensing process for Short-Term Dwelling Rentals, please contact Boulder County Licensing at strlicensing@bouldercounty.org or 303-441-3930.

For all questions related to zoning, enforcement, or the Short-Term Dwelling Rental land use review processes, please contact Boulder County Community Planning & Permitting at 303-441-3930 or use the Ask a Planner form.

Contact Us

Community Planning & Permitting (formerly the Land Use Dept.)

Email: Ask a Planner Form
Main: 303-441-3930

Courthouse Annex Building

2045 13th Street
Boulder, CO 80302
PHYSICAL OFFICE CLOSED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS PRECAUTIONS
Service hours are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Map & Directions

Mailing Address

Community Planning & Permitting
PO Box 471
Boulder, CO 80306
www.BoulderCounty.org/lu