Mt. CB makes moves on Housing Matters program

Hope to incentivize short-term rental owners into long-term rentals

By Kendra Walker

The Mt. Crested Butte town council is looking into a potential program that will entice short-term rental (STR) owners to rent out their property long-term and in return provide local employees with access to long-term rental properties. 

Jennifer Kermode with the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority (GVRHA) spoke with the council about a potential “Housing Matters” program during their August 3 meeting. 

The idea would be for Mt. Crested Butte to facilitate and help fund the creation of the Housing Matters program through the GVRHA, which would then assist with landlord and tenant relations and property management. The program is intended to incentivize STR owners to put their property into a long-term rental pool where the GVRHA would enter into a master lease agreement with the property owner and have an occupancy agreement with the tenant to sublease the property. A surety fund would also be in place to cover up to one month’s rent and reasonable repairs, for the owner’s peace of mind. 

Kermode explained that the concept is a spin-off from a program that’s been in operation in Summit County since 2016. The program would most likely focus on properties that are currently being short-term rented, properties that are on the market and displacing local workers, and properties that are second homes and sitting vacant. 

Some benefits of the program: assisting landlords in pre-screening tenants, assuring landlords that rent will be covered through the end of the month and assistance with getting a new tenant once a previous tenant leaves. It is also intended to make it easier for a tenant to get into housing by waiving the last month’s rent and half of the security deposit.

If a tenant backs out, rent is essentially guaranteed, explained Kermode. “The key behind this is having a surety fund to access should we need to. It would also cover any damages to the property that the security deposit won’t pay.”

The Summit County program, which has 45 units, started with a $50,000 surety fund, and “to date, over six years, that fund has never been accessed,” said Kermode. “Which is very encouraging to hear.” 

Landlords would be required to offer less than or equal to rents affordable to local wages based on household size, agree to a minimum one-year term, and agree to minimal rent increases each year. The Housing Authority would also charge the property owners a property management fee, but it would be roughly half of what they would pay a commercial property management company, said Kermode. 

Tenants would agree to criminal background and credit checks, demonstrate an ability and willingness to pay rent and agree to scheduled inspections.

GVRHA currently manages 78 units across Gunnison County. “Property management is in our background. This is what we do, this is one of the things we do and one of the services we can offer to the Town of Mt. Crested Butte is administering this program for you,” said Kermode. 

The town council liked the program concept and agreed to move forward and set aside $50,000 in the town’s housing fund that could be available as a backstop. “It sounds like a great program and exactly what we’ve been talking about to try and incentivize long-term rentals,” said council member Nicholas Kempin. 

The council was also interested in working with the Valley Housing Fund and the Community Foundation to start actively pursuing some fundraising for affordable housing as well. “It’s a really good idea to partner with the Housing Fund and the Community Foundation to try to raise additional funds for that,” said Kermode. “Through [their] willingness to work with us through fundraising efforts that’s a great way to market to individuals who probably have property that would be great for this.” 

The council directed town staff to draft a contract agreement between the housing authority and the town of Mt. Crested Butte for the Housing Matters program. When asked how soon the housing authority could begin once this is approved, Kermode responded, “The day after.”

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