KILLINGTON — The town now has some idea of what a short-term rental registration program might cost should it implement one.
Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth told the Select Board on Oct. 1 that he’s been speaking with a company called Host Compliance, based in Seattle, that helps municipalities track short-term rental listings made through services like Airbnb and Vacation Rentals By Owner.
“The whole purpose of the registration program, and we’re getting ahead of ourselves, is to basically create an information centralization so that people understand the rules that already exist,” Hagenbarth said. “There’s no new rules being written.”
He said short-term rentals, which the town considers to be rental units let out for less than 30 days at a time, need to meet town and state safety regulations. The town has been having issues with some of these rental properties advertising they can sleep scores of people when their permits don’t allow for that many.
Host Compliance monitors 36 short-term rental websites on behalf of 300 towns, according to Hagenbarth. “They’ve already found there’s 931 short-term rentals in Killington that are operating on these internet rental sites,” he said. “There’s over 1,000 listings because a lot of them have listings on more than one site, but it’s 931 actual properties.”
He said if the town opts to purchase every one of Host Compliance’s services, it would cost about $151,000 in the first year. The company would first identify all of the town’s short-term rentals, verify their addresses and match them with photos, allowing the town to send each property owner a letter stating what existing rules they need to keep in mind. This would cost about $30,000. Ongoing monitoring would carry an annual fee, as would some other compliance monitoring services the company offers. Some of those services included a 24-hour hotline that citizens, law enforcement or whoever could contact to get in touch with an owner should there be an issue at a property.
Selectman Jim Haff said he has several questions about the nature of some of Host Compliance’s services.
“We would have them do a presentation if we chose to move forward,” said Hagenbarth. “This is if we were to buy all of their services.”
He said the current figures will give the town something to work with when it drafts its proposed budget in December. The board can decide which services it wants from Host Compliance.
Hagenbarth said in an interview Wednesday that the registration program would become part of the town’s zoning bylaws. Proposed language for that has been submitted to an attorney for review, but he hasn’t heard back yet.
Board Chairman Steve Finneron said public comment will be sought before the town implements this. He said the issue was big enough for the board to want feedback from the public. Haff suggested that some of the towns Host Compliance serves be contacted for references.
Haff said he feels most short-term rental owners in town will welcome this, as it will make clear the rules they need to follow, which most are already in compliance with.
“This will actually help them and prove they’re in compliance,” he said, adding that it will also improve the overall quality and reliability of short-term rental listings in town.
According to the 2010 Census, Killington has a population of 811 people and holds 2,762 housing units. Killington Ski Resort and its sister resort, Pico Mountain Ski Resort, draw thousands of visitors to the town.