Boulder Vacation Rental License? What are the Requirements?

Date Published: October 19, 2021

The city of Boulder has a long history with rental licenses of different types. Most notably is their long-term rental license program that has been around in one form or another for half a decade.

This program requires anyone looking to rent a home within the city of Boulder to obtain a rental license from the city. This includes meeting certain safety requirements within the property, and having a Rental License Inspection performed.

In more recent years with the explosion of companies like AirBnb and VRBO, Boulder County has created rules around short-term rentals. Unlike the city’s rental license requirements, these requirements extend across the whole county.

While the CITY of Boulder has different requirements, if your home is in unincorporated Boulder County, the following short-term rental rules will apply to you:

There are two types of shorter-term rental licenses in the county: Short-Term Rental License and Vacation Rental License.

Short-Term Rental Licenses are required for homes rented out for less than 30 days at a time and are part of a primary residence of an owner OR houses that are not the primary residence of an owner, but the homes are rented less than 60 days out of the year. A passing radon test is required for these licenses.

Vacation Rental Licenses are required for people who own property primarily for the purpose of AirBnb or a similar format. This is defined as a single-family home that is not the primary residence of the owner that is rented out for more than 60 days of the year.

If you are confused, follow the flow chart below:

1. Is the house in the CITY of Boulder?

If Yes, you need to use the city short-term rental application. This article does not apply.


2. Is the house the primary residence of the owner, but renting out a room for less than 30 days at a time?

If Yes, Primary Dwelling Short-Term Rental License needed. Radon Test Is Needed.


3. Is the house NOT the primary residence of the owner, but planning to rent the house for LESS THAN 60 days a year total?

If Yes, Secondary Dwelling Short-Term Rental License needed. Radon Test Is Needed. (This will likely be uncommon)


4. Is the house NOT the primary residence of the owner AND they are renting the house out for MORE THAN 60 Days a year.

This will likely be a standard AirBnb or VRBO where the house is offered all year.

If Yes, Vacation Rental License needed. A passing Radon Test is required. An Energy Audit is required unless the house had a HERS Rating performed that the owner has.


As you can see, if you plan on renting out a property in the short term but all year long, you will likely fall under the vacation rental category. You can learn more about this on the Boulder county website here.Boulder Vacation Rental License on AIRbnb

Vacation Rental License Requirements

Today we are going to focus on vacation rental license requirements. The full requirement checklist can be found here, but we will also talk through each point.

  1. Building Lot Determination
  2. Deed
  3. Floor Plan
  4. Insurance Proof
  5. Local Manager Information (You or a professional)
  6. Map of Property
  7. Proof of Utilities
  8. Proof of Paid Property Tax
  9. Number of Sleeping Rooms
  10. HERS Certificate or Energy Audit
  11. Radon Testing Results

As you can see, there is no inspection requirement as with long-term rentals. Most of the items on the list are documents most homeowners will already have and can be easily checked off the list.

The last 2 are what we will focus on today. These are items that you may need to have performed before you can obtain the license.


HERS Certificate or Energy Audit

HERS ratings and Energy Audits both have to do with saving energy. The county and the city have ambitious energy goals which this ties into. One of these 2 documents will be required for a Boulder Vacation Rental License.

A HERS rating is an energy rating score that is typically performed when a house is built. In Boulder, a HERS Rating is required during construction. This energy rating score measures the efficiency of the home. The closer the number is to zero, the closer the home is to being fully “net zero.” If this is something that was performed when the home was built, or you can source it from the builder, that will fulfill this requirement.

If the home is older or you are not sure if a HERS Rating was ever completed, then an Energy Audit can be performed. An Energy Audit is a simple inspection where the inspector will evaluate the home’s energy systems including insulation, windows and doors, heating and cooling efficiency, appliance performance, and air leakage.

Blower door test during an energy audit for Boulder Vacation Rental License

A full home air leakage test is performed using a blower door test and air leaks are found using a thermal camera.

Looking for more information on our Energy Audit service? Find out more here.

Energy Audits are simple and affordable tests that can meet this requirement. While we perform both HERS Ratings and Energy Audits, we recommend going with an Energy Audit if a HERS Rating is not available due to cost.

Radon Test Requirements

In an effort to protect any occupant from radon exposure, the county requires a radon test be performed on a property before a license is given to show safe levels.

Radon testing is becoming a requirement at many stages of a home’s life cycle and for good reason as radon levels in Colorado are above average. A radon test is a 48-hour test which reads the radon levels of the home hourly and gives an average level.

Our radon testing service is fast and simple. Schedule your affordable 48-hour radon test here.

Radon levels are measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L) and if the results come in higher than 4.0 pCi/L, then radon mitigation is recommended.

For the license requirement, you will have to show that the home has a level lower than 4.0 pCi/L. We recommend starting with a 3rd party radon test and mitigating as needed. Our company performs these tests, and is certified with the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP).

If you are in need of a test, find more information about our radon testing service here.

Vacation Rental License Requirements

These 2 extra requirements are the only items that will likely need to be done by a 3rd party. If you have further questions about the Boulder Vacation Rental License requirements or would like to schedule a radon test and energy audit, contact us here. We can help you meet your Boulder Vacation Rental License Requirements fast!



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About the Author: Chris Scott

Chris Scott is an ASHI certified home inspector with multiple years of experience in home inspections, blower door testing, duct leakage testing, and Boulder Rental License Inspections. Chris is also the Website Coordinator for Scott Home Inspection.

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