Short-term rentals

Initial reviews for short-term rental applications can take up to 30 days. Specialist reviews can take up to 90 days. These reviews allow the Department to adhere to ordinance requirements. We appreciate your patience. You can check the status and last time your application changed below.

What is a short-term rental?

Often facilitated by peer-to-peer websites such as VRBO.com and AirBnB.com, a short-term rental is a residential dwelling unit available for rent for one to 29 days. Pursuant to the Denver Revised Municipal Code, the City and County of Denver requires hosts to get a license to offer a short-term rental in their primary residence. Primary residence means the place where a person's habitation is fixed for the term of the license and is the person's usual place of return. A person can have only one primary residence.

Check the status of a license application

Do I need a short-term rental license?

If you rent a property to guests for fewer than 29 nights at one time, a short-term rental license is required. The property being rented must be your primary residence. If you are not the property owner, you will need permission from the property owner to operate short-term rentals there.

If you only rent for 30-plus days at a time, a residential rental property license is required.

Do I qualify for a short-term rental license? What is a primary residence?

Is this my primary residence?

Primary residence is the place in which a person's habitation is fixed for the term of the license and is the person's usual place of return. A person can have only one primary residence. Note the common use of the term "usual," meaning "more often than not." The City and County of Denver has a specific definition of primary residence. Claiming primary residence with state or other governmental entities does not in itself meet the city definition. For example, claiming primary residence at a location for tax purposes would not necessarily make it a person's primary residence for purposes of getting a short-term rental license. Per the Denver Revised Municipal Code, the Department can consider the following criteria in determining an applicant's primary residence:

  1. Whether the applicant has or claims any other location for domestic, legal, billing, voting, or licensing purposes.
  2. Whether and how often the applicant returns to the short-term rental or resides at any other location within a calendar year.
  3. Whether the address listed on an applicant's legal documents or tax assessment records is different than the address of the short-term rental.
  4. Whether an applicant's business pursuits, employment, income sources, residence for income or other tax purposes, leaseholds, situs of personal and real property, and motor vehicle registration indicate that the short-term rental is the applicant's primary residence.
  5. Whether the amount of time that the short-term rental has been, or will be, rented within the calendar year indicates the short-term rental is or is not the applicant's primary residence.
  6. Whether the applicant is actively deployed in the United States military.
  7. Whether any other relevant information discovered by the director or submitted by the applicant indicates that the short-term rental is not the applicant's primary residence.

The list of scenarios below can also help determine if an STR location (always a single residential dwelling unit) would qualify as a primary residence. This is not an exhaustive list and should not be construed as legal advice.

I have no primary residence

It is possible for a person to have no primary residence if their lifestyle is more nomadic in nature. If a person's habitation is not fixed at the STR location, as required, then it would not be considered their primary residence.

My spouse and family live somewhere else

Where your spouse and family lives is a factor that could be considered by the director in determining your primary residence. While it is possible for a person to live separately from their spouse, the Department would generally consider it more likely that they live together. It is the applicant's burden to prove their primary residence is separate from that of their spouse and family.

I stay here when I'm in Denver

Primary residence does not include any qualifier such as "when I'm in Denver" or "when the home is not rented." A person's primary residence is the place where their habitation is fixed for the term of the license and their usual place of return. If a person does not usually return to the STR location, then it likely would not qualify as their primary residence.

Primary residence is a person's "usual place of return." If a person is not usually returning to the STR location to live, then it likely would not qualify as their primary residence. Returning to a home for purpose of cleaning or "turn over" between STR stays would not qualify as returning for this purpose.

I receive benefits related to my primary residence somewhere else

A person can only have one primary residence. If a person is receiving a benefit, such as a short-term rental license in another city that has a primary residence requirement, then the STR location likely would not qualify as their primary residence.

I did not usually return, but only ever stayed in other hotels and not another home

It is possible for a person to have no primary residence if their lifestyle is more nomadic in nature. If a person's habitation is not fixed at the STR location, as required, then it likely would not be considered their primary residence.

I stay somewhere else, but I do not own it or have a lease

If a home is where a person's habitation is fixed for the term of the license and their usual place of return, then that would be considered their primary residence, regardless of formal possession.

I only stay with my significant other when the home is rented

If the STR location is usually booked and the applicant is not usually returning there, then it likely would not qualify as their primary residence. If the STR location is only booked some of the time and the applicant usually returns there, it would likely qualify as their primary residence.

I have to stay somewhere else for work

The location of a person's business pursuits, employment, income sources, and residence for income are all factors that could be considered by the Department in determining their primary residence. If a person is relocated away from the STR location for work or school, then the STR location would likely cease being the place where their habitation is fixed and would therefore no longer qualify as their primary residence. If a person travels for work, but still usually returns to the STR location, it would continue to qualify as their primary residence.

I work remotely and often live elsewhere

It is possible for a person to have no primary residence if their lifestyle is more nomadic in nature. If a person's habitation is not fixed at the STR location, as required, then it would not be considered their primary residence and the Department would deny their application. If a person's habitation is fixed at the STR location and it remains their place of usual return, then it would remain their primary residence.

I am deployed somewhere else

Whether the applicant is actively deployed in the United States military is a factor the Department can consider in determining their primary residence. If their habitation is otherwise fixed at the STR location and it is their usual place of return when they are not deployed, then it likely would qualify as their primary residence. But changing permanent residence paperwork to a location without the other conditions being met would not make it their primary residence.

Short-term rental FAQs and application video guides

All short-term rental applicants should start by watching our step-by-step video guides

You can access a list of frequently asked questions about short-term rentals and application requirements.

Check on the status of an application

An applicant can check on the status of an application at any time through the online application portal. Download the application status check-in guide(PDF, 457KB) for step-by-step instructions.

If an applicant has a complete and pending renewal, they can continue operating the STR for as long as the renewal is pending. The Department will send all correspondence, including requests for more information, to the email address associated with the application.

If you submitted a renewal application after your license expired, your hosting platform might have disabled your ability to take new short-term rental reservations. You might need to manually correct your booking calendar and minimum stay after submitting the renewal. It could take up to a week for the hosting platform to sync with city systems and allow bookings. Call 311 if your listing remains disabled.

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