Nightly rental market in Summit County, Park City assessed | ParkRecord.com

Nightly rental market in Summit County, Park City assessed

As the popularity of nightly and short-term rentals continues to soar among tourists visiting Summit County and Park City, a study is underway to help elected leaders and government partners in the tourism industry better understand the impacts the market has on the resort area.

Those who support short-term rentals credit them with "providing financial assistance during difficult financial times, enabling travelers to find a less expensive alternative to a hotel and that short-term rental guests end up staying longer and spending more money in the communities where they stay," according to a county staff report.

The report also offered the negative impacts the market can have on communities, such as changing the character of neighborhoods, harming the hospitality industry and not adhering to regulations.

"While some level of home- sharing and vacation rental has always occurred in tourist-friendly geographies, short-term rentals have exploded in Summit County in accessibility and popularity with the arrival of websites such as Craigslist, Vacation Rentals by Owner, HomeAway and Airbnb," the report states.

Summit County, Park City Municipal and the Park City Chamber Bureau contracted with Brumby McLeod, an associate professor in the School of Business at the College of Charleston, South Carolina, to assess the housing mix in the county and Park City as it relates to short-term rentals. The data is intended to inform policy and zoning to help regulate the market.

"The study is to identify the housing mix, including where do those short-term rentals come from?" McLeod said. "They can come from owner-occupied units, long-term tenant occupied units or second homes. What makes it difficult is that they are all independently ran."

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Phase 1 of the study – the data gathering stage – is expected to be complete in the next couple of weeks. The preliminary results and findings were presented to the Summit County Council on Wednesday.

Through November, roughly 2,535 nightly rental licenses were issued in Summit County and Park City in 2017, with 2,099 of them issued in Park City, according to McLeod's studies. The licensing information was obtained from building, assessor and nightly rental license data from the county and City Hall.

"One of the first things we hoped to see from that data is who the operator is and who is putting it up for rental," McLeod said. "We were only able to identify 437 units professionally managed and 223 by the owner. The other 1,875 were not clear and that is concerning. And even with upwards of 4,200 licenses, not everything that is for rent is listed."

McLeod said the data suggests a compliance issue in the community, which, he added, is not surprising. He said the data ascertained in Phase 1 will inform what the compliance issues are.

County Council Chair Kim Carson said the most common complaint Council members receive is from homeowners claiming their neighbors are being "noisy and trash is all over the place." She inquired whether Phase 2 will provide recommendations for ordinances and policies to address the neighborhood impacts.

County Councilor Glenn Wright suggested the problem can be attributed to where the short-term rentals are located. He said some neighborhoods that have been thought of as traditional long-term neighborhoods may, in fact, contain homes that are being used for short-term rentals.

"If we start seeing we are having short-term rentals in these locations, we can expect to see more complaints," he said.

Wednesday's discussion primarily covered the preliminary results of the study and was meant to introduce the County Council to what information will likely be produced during Phase 2.

"The system includes monitoring for a year following setup and implementation, and a series of quarterly updates on the housing details discovered," the report states. "Regardless of the current decisions around ordinances, compliance or enforcement, this program allows for better decision making and knowledge of housing and the management of short-term rentals in the market."