The 411 on the City Of Boulder Rental License Program

Many new landlords with properties in the City of Boulder are often surprised to learn that there is a mandatory Rental Licensing Program that affects their property. This rental licensing program only applies to residential properties, so if you have recently purchased retail, office, commercial, warehouse or some other form of real estate, you are currently exempt from the City of Boulder’s Rental Licensing Requirements.

Boulder’s licensing program was originally started only to provide for the health and safety of tenants.  However, as the need to regulate properties increased, the cost of operating the government program increased as well, and so it has morphed into the mandatory fee-laden program it is today. Between paid inspections, required disclosures, signed affidavits and positive photo identification, application fees, and now SmartRegs, the total cost for a landlord to obtain a rental license is roughly between $200-$250; not taking in consideration any additional repairs that might be required after the rental inspection.  Neighbors and tenants are encouraged to turn in scofflaws, and the fines far outweigh the cost of a license. The Boulder City Council has openly stated that ”unlicensed landlords are abusing the system which is designed to protect rentals,” and the Daily Camera has run articles encouraging renters to “check the license to a property prior to signing a lease.” If you are experiencing a time crunch with obtaining your license immediately after closing, give the city a call at (303) 441-3152. In my experience they have always been very helpful and willing to work with landlords for reasonable situations.

Most savvy landlords have started to include the additional licensing costs into their projections and pass it through to the tenants with increased rental rates. As more programs are instituted, such as Smart Regs in 2019, we will most likely experience continued increases in Boulder’s rental rates as landlords attempt to recoup some of their expenses.

SmartRegs is a required code of efficiency that residential rentals in Boulder will be forced to meet by 2019. It will impact many older properties. The market is expected to see a trend toward disposing of rental properties that require high dollar upgrades to meet the new standards. My prediction is that these properties will be purchased by homeowners who will occupy the property, and therefore not required to make the upgrades.  The burden of SmartRegs is only placed on the property when it is owned as a rental.  Whether or not this affects the overall sale price has yet to be seen.  Boulder has such a consistently strong seller’s market that it seems unlikely that it will actually impact home prices.

SmartRegs, like the Rental Licensing Program, places Boulder ahead of the curve, compared to the rest of the country. Sheila Horton, the Executive Director of BARHA said that Boulder was the first Rental Licensing Program in the country to implement a standardized inspection checklist thus eliminating the ambiguity of what a property needed to pass from one inspector to the next. Whether or not SmartRegs takes root in other municipalities or truly reduces Boulder’s overall carbon emissions has yet to be measured.

The basics of obtaining a license are posted on the City of Boulder website, since their website is tricky to navigate we have outlined some tips for you below.

8z Rentals tips for obtaining a rental license in the City of Boulder:

  1. Are you Exempt? There are several exemptions owners may use in lieu of obtaining a rental license that are noted on the City of Boulder website. The two most common qualifying exemptions that we encounter are for parents who rent their place out to their children, or for someone who takes a sabbatical and needs to rent out their personal home to offset the mortgage expense while abroad. This exemption has a very narrow scope of requirements that must all be met in order to qualify. It seems that the hardest requirement for a sabbatical exemption is that you must reoccupy your home in 12 months or less, which forces many homeowners to make the tough decision of cutting their time short, leaving the home vacant, or going through the whole licensing process. Click here for a copy of the Owner’s Exemption Form.
  2. Finalize your ownership. This sounds simple, but if you decide to use an LLC or Trust, or quit claim it to a family member it should be done prior to obtaining the license, as transfer of ownership may trigger the need for a new rental license.
  3. Complete an inspection. Ensure that your inspector is currently approved by the city as one of their licensed rental inspectors. You can find the link to the inspectors who are licensed with the City of Boulder here.
  4. Make Required Repairs. If the inspector notes any health or safety issues they will need to be repaired and your home re-inspected prior to the inspector signing off on your property.
  5. Appoint a Local Agent. If you choose to be your own local agent, then you must reside in Boulder County; any owner living outside the county is required to appoint a local agent to manage the property. 8z Rentals manages many homes in the City of Boulder and we would be happy to discuss our services.
  6. Agent/Owner Inspection Requirements. The Owner/Agent must personally test and certify compliance that the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors are properly installed and functioning. Owner/Agent must also certify that they have a valid contract for a commercial trash service.
  7. Legal Residency Affidavit/Photo ID. According to the city, landlords are receiving a public government benefit by obtaining the City of Boulder Rental License, and therefore Landlords must prove through a sworn affidavit and a copy of valid photo identification that they are a US Citizen or are otherwise residing here lawfully. Click here for a copy of the City’s Affidavit of Legal Residency form.
  8. Complete Application. The Rental License Application form can be found in the Rental License Handbook on the city’s website (click here).
  9. Disclosures. Owner/Agent must thoroughly explain the required Boulder Rental Disclosures to the residents, and have them signed by all occupants of the property. Click here for a sample of the Boulder Disclosures.

Once the Owner/Agent has filled out all of the paperwork, they will need to send it in to the city along with the inspection report and the license application fee payable to the City of Boulder. At the time of this writing, the fee is $70. We have had applications misplaced by the City in the past, so be sure to make a copy of everything prior to submitting your application and hold onto it until you receive your license. We find that it usually takes about 2-3 weeks to obtain your license in the mail. If the application is incomplete, the city will usually cash your check and consider this to be receipt of your application, and will mail the incomplete paperwork back to you for completion. The city has been very helpful in the past with explaining the missing items and giving ample time to return the completed paperwork.

Good Luck and give us a call if you have any questions, 8z Rentals is happy to help!

www.8zRentals.com

303-563-4104

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