PINEDALE – People who rent out homes for short-time stays may need to get a permit from the town of Pinedale in the future.
Mayor Bob Jones asked the council members to consider either an ordinance or permitting process to get control over the numerous homeowners who generate additional revenue renting out homes in their absence. The council met Monday, Nov. 27 for its regularly-scheduled meeting.
An Internet search on Airbandb.com showed 50 rentals in the Pinedale 82941 ZIP code and a similar search on VRBO.com showed another 16 for rent this week. Rents advertised for a night’s stay were between $63 to $1,200 a night.
Jones said the practice means long-term residents are forced to live next to what is basically a hotel, where people come in for short stays and have no responsibilities to neighbors. He said a rental home in his neighborhood has left him frustrated. “They have parties, park everywhere and there is no remedy,” Jones said. “I would never have bought a home next to a hotel.”
He added, they are competing against established hotels and they are not paying the 2-percent lodging tax that comes back to the Pinedale Travel and Tourism Commission.
Council member Tyler Swafford called any move “an overreach of government,” saying it was not up to the council to tell property owners what to do with their property.
Council member Matt Murdock said there are two separate issues, people not being good neighbors and people using the services to avoid taxes. He said a worse issue, which would be more difficult to stop, is to have someone rent a place for a month to avoid the lodging tax, then sublet every week to their coworkers.
Swafford said, “Either way, homeowners are still responsible for their renters.” He added, basically homes are being turned into man camps inside the city limits.
The community is one where a large number of people do not live year-round and people just want to generate revenue from their assets.
Jones disagreed that was a problem. He said workers come in, a neighbor meets them, they’re around long enough to work out any problems.
He said not doing anything is “putting visitors ahead of your residents.”
City Attorney Ed Wood, when asked to draft something for consideration, asked for clarification. He said the issue is enforcement. If you want to pursue the homeowner, the town is sending letters and fines to somewhere in Arizona, for something that happened while they were out of town. He added, ordinances already exist, but aren’t being used to deal with visitors who are loud and disruptive. All that needs done is to make a report to law enforcement and citations can be issued to the visitor – even if they don’t own the home.
“If I’m on the corner of Pine Street being loud and belligerent, I can be cited,” Wood said, regardless of where his primary residence is located.
Several council members and community members spoke about the convenience of the rental services. Murdock added that Airbandb has signed an agreement with the state of Wyoming to collect any lodging taxes owed when business is booked through their service. He proposed a permit system for homeowners.
Maureen Rudnick, Pinedale town clerk, said she has received four complaints in the past week, all from the same area. She said she used the service when family was visiting and she had a party. However, the lease agreement had a $1,000 deposit, with strict guidelines. She added, the loss of $1,000 was a huge motivation for her as a renter to ensure the party was over by 10 p.m.
If the town had a permit number and contact information as well as good guidelines and criteria, homeowners could be held accountable. If the town fines them $750 for unruly renters a couple times, homeowners will be more selective when accepting renters, Murdock said.
Jones directed the attorney and staff to draw up something, based on other communities’ success stories, and bring it back to the council. n