Starting Jan. 1, the minimum wage in unincorporated Boulder County is $15.69/hour.

A partir del 1 de enero, el salario mínimo local en la zona no incorporada del condado de Boulder será de $15,69/hora.

Short-Term Dwelling and Vacation Rental Licensing
Indian Peaks landscape.

The Boulder County Community Planning & Permitting physical office at 2045 13th St., Boulder is open to the public for walk-ins on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments are available on Tuesday but are not required. We are virtually available to assist the public on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Schedule an appointment.

Short-Term Dwelling and Vacation Rental Licensing

Implementation and review process for DC-19-0005 Short-Term Dwelling Rentals Text Amendments

Information and Public Listening Session on Short-Term and Vacation Rentals, Dec. 12, 2022

Boulder County Community Planning & Permitting hosted an information and listening session on Dec. 12, 2022, for the two-year review of the county’s Short-Term and Vacation Rental Land Use Code regulations, Licensing Ordinance, and enforcement processes. Staff provided information and a timeline for the two-year review, and held listening sessions in virtual breakout rooms to hear from members of the public.

Next Steps

Staff will continue to collect information throughout the remainder of the year. All reports to the BOCC will be available to the public, and the BOCC will hold a public hearing on the two-year review on January 17, 2023. Once the Board reviews the report and staff presentation, it will determine whether any changes to the Land Use Code are needed. Any further action beyond the report to the Board would be based on the direction given to staff by the Board.


Boulder County updated Land Use Code regulations related to Short-Term Dwelling and Vacation Rentals in 2021. The final text amendments were signed by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on January 5, 2021, and became effective February 7, 2021.

Licensing for short-term rentals began on March 1, 2021 and compliance and outreach began in March 2022. The required review was initiated in August 2022. Staff presented an initial review of land use applications for short-term rentals to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and Planning Commission on October 19, 2022. View the staff presentation and supporting documents.

According to the approval Resolution 2020-104, the efficacy of the Land Use Code amendment must be reviewed within two years of adoption, but no sooner than one year following full implementation. In accordance with this requirement, staff established criteria and metrics for review. The criteria include:

  • Existing short-term and vacation rental regulations in the Land Use Code meet the intent of policymakers, decision-makers have sufficient guidance to make decisions, and existing levels of review are appropriate;
  • Existing licensing requirements are appropriate, verifiable, and promote desired safety standards;
  • Proactive enforcement to achieve compliance with Land Use Code and licensing ordinance.

The metrics, which will help staff measure progress on achieving the above criteria, are both qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative metrics include a review of best practices, land use applications for short-term rentals, the licensing requirements, and enforcement efforts to date. Quantitative metrics include statistics about land use reviews, licenses issued, code compliance, and monitoring efforts supported by the county’s third-party vendor.


A local license issued by Boulder County Community Planning & Permitting is required to operate any Short-Term Rental in unincorporated Boulder County. A Short-Term Rental (such as VRBO or Airbnb) is a rental that is offered to a single booking party for a rental duration of fewer than 30 days at a time. Boulder County does not issue licenses for the incorporated towns and cities (e.g., Boulder, Nederland) located in Boulder County.

Determine which process and license is right for you

There are two types of Short-Term Dwelling Rental Licenses depending on the type of rental property the owner wants to operate:

  1. A Short-Term Rental License is required for:
    • Primary Dwelling Short-Term Rental – A single-family dwelling unit offering lodging accommodations to a single booking party at a time within that dwelling unit for a rental duration of fewer than 30 days where the dwelling unit is the primary residence of the owner.
    • Secondary Dwelling Short-Term Rental – A single-family dwelling unit offering lodging accommodations to a single booking party at a time within that dwelling unit for a rental duration of fewer than 30 days where:
      • The dwelling unit is not the primary residence of the owner;
      • The dwelling unit is rented 60 days per year or less; and
      • The dwelling unit is rented with a two-night stay minimum.
  2. A Vacation Rental License is required for:
    • Vacation Rental* – A single-family dwelling unit offering lodging accommodations to a single booking party at a time within that dwelling unit for a rental duration of fewer than 30 days where:
      • The dwelling unit is not the primary residence of the owner; and
      • The dwelling unit is rented more than 60 days per year.

*Please note: Vacation Rentals are allowed in the F, A, RR, and MI zoning districts provided they are on unsubdivided land. In other words, Vacation Rentals are not allowed in subdivisions. You may Ask a Planner if you are unsure whether you are in a Subdivision. Vacation Rentals are also allowed in B, Cl, LI, and GI zoning districts.

Property owners who would like to have a Secondary Dwelling Short-Term Rental or a Vacation Rental will need to go through the appropriate review and approval process as required by and outlined in the Boulder County Land Use Code (Articles 4-507 and 4-516, see Resolution 2020-104) prior to being eligible to apply for a Short-Term Dwelling Rental License. Property owners who have received approval to run a Short-Term Rental prior to February 8, 2021 and are operating within the terms of that approval will not need to go through an additional land use review process but will still need to apply for a license.

Please use this tool to help determine which process and license is right for you.

Boulder County Short-Term Dwelling Rental Licensing Regulations


  • Short-Term Rental License (Primary and Secondary Dwelling Short-Term Rentals): $200.00 initially, $175.00 renewal
  • Vacation Rental License (Vacation Rentals): $300.00 initially, $275.00 renewal

A $50.00 discount is given on renewals when there are no confirmed violations during the License Period (of two years).

Application and Application Checklists

Application Checklists to review as you prepare the materials you will need for the online application:

Guidelines For Rental Properties

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Short Term Rentals (STR) & Vacation Rental (VR) Inspection Checklist

1. Upon arrival to the STR/VR the inspector will check for the following:

  • A posted site address that is visible from the public right of way
  • Access to the main entrance is free of any obstructions and that any steps, stairs, landings, handrails or guardrails are code compliant.
  • Verify that the interior layout of the home to be rented matches the floor plan.
  • Verify that the name/label and use of each room to be rented matches the floor plan.
  • The location(s) of all egress doors within the rental.

2. While inspecting the home, the Inspector will ensure that all areas highlighted on the plans as habitable meet the following:

  • Minimum ceiling height per current code or the code in effect at the time of construction.
  • Bedroom ceiling height must be 7’-0” min. and any other room used for sleeping purposes must also have a min. ceiling height of 7’-0”.
  • Each habitable space must have an approved HVAC system. No portable heaters as main heat.
  • Proper light and ventilation.
  • All electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems are installed and maintained properly and free from any hazards.
  • All handrails and guardrails must be in place. *Please refer to the attached handout for handrail and guard details.
  • Every room intended for sleeping purposes shall be equipped with smoke alarms.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms shall be installed within 15 feet of all bedrooms and sleeping areas.
    Note: Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms shall be installed per current code regardless of the
    age of the structure.
  • All egress passages shall be free from obstructions.
  • All sleeping areas shall contain an emergency escape and rescue opening installed in accordance with the code in effect at the time of construction. *Please refer to the attached egress handout for reference.
  • No temporary wiring shall be permitted.
  • An approved heat source shall be installed that is capable of heating the home to a temperature of 70 degrees at a point 3 feet above the floor. No portable heaters shall be permitted.
  • Sleeping rooms located in excess of 16 feet above finish grade shall be equipped with an emergency egress ladder. Ensure a permanently fixed or retractable ladder is provided
  • Every dwelling shall be equipped with fire extinguishers.
  • Hot tubs, saunas, whirlpool tubs, and similar devices shall be installed in accordance with the 2020 NEC or applicable code.

Yes. All Short-Term Rentals within the unincorporated Boulder County must now be licensed, regardless of a prior Limited Impact Special Use Review or Waiver (LU or LUW) approval. Previously approved short-term rentals must continue to abide by the conditions of approval listed in the Board of County Commissioner’s Resolution for their LU or Determination Letter for their LUW and must also abide by the requirements in the Licensing Ordinance, many of which overlap. When applying for a new Short-Term Rental or Vacation Rental License with a previous approval, the LU or LUW docket number (e.g., LU-01-0123) must be provided.

More information regarding previous approvals:

Participation in Wildfire Partners is required for Short-Term Rentals and Vacation Rentals that are located in Fire Zone 1.Map of Wildfire Zones 1 and 2 in Boulder County

  • For Primary Dwelling and Secondary Dwelling Short-Term Rentals, Wildfire Partners Certification is required at the first license renewal, after the first two years of operation.
  • For Vacation Rentals, it is required prior to issuance of a license.

Contact Wildfire Partners directly for more information about mitigation requirements.

More information on wildfire mitigation:

  • Fire Zone Map
  • Wildfire Partners
  • How to Apply for Certification
  • After you Apply: Once you apply and submit your digital waiver, email Abby Silver at to schedule your assessment. Assessments are typically scheduled within 2-3 weeks and a report with property-specific requirements that must be completed for certification is usually sent within ten days of the assessment. The time and costs involved for certification are dependent on the type and number of requirements identified at assessment.
  • Wildfire Partners assessments or certificates from previous years: Any assessment or certificate from 2014 to the present will be accepted. You will not be asked to provide a copy as County staff will verify.

A certified Radon Measurement Professional must complete radon testing prior to issuance of a license for all short-term rentals. Please contact the Public Health Department for more information and questions.

More information on radon testing:

Parking Requirements

  • Vacation Rentals: 1 space per sleeping room + 1 space for local manager (example: 1 sleeping room = 2 parking spaces required)
  • Primary and Short-Term Dwelling Rentals: 1 space/sleeping room + 1 space for owner/ local manager OR 3 spaces total, whichever is greater (example: 1 sleeping room = 3 parking spaces required; 3 sleeping rooms = 4 parking spaces required)

All parking must be on-site for all rentals. A parking map identifying designated on-site parking spaces must be submitted with the license application.

Primary and Secondary Dwelling Short-Term Rentals are allowed on subdivided land (i.e., within a platted subdivision), but Vacation Rentals are not. To confirm if your property in unincorporated Boulder County is located in one of these subdivided areas, please see our list of platted subdivisions below. Another way to check is by looking at the legal description of the property that is included on the deed. Subdivided land typically has a legal description similar to Lot 1 Block 2 Subdivision Name (e.g., Lot 43 Pine Brook Hills or Lot 3 Block 5 Heatherwood). You may also search by address:

More information regarding subdivided/platted land:

For modifications to existing licenses, including changes in property ownership, relevant application information regarding the proposed changes must be submitted for review to the Community Planning & Permitting Department. The proposal may be subject to the requirements under Section 4: Licensing Procedure of the Licensing Ordinance, up to and including re-application. To submit a modification request, or for questions, please contact Boulder County Licensing at or 303-441-3930.


In order to give the public time to apply for a License, and CP&P staff time to work through implementation, CP&P staff will not begin active enforcement until at least June 5, 2021. Additionally, CP&P staff will not actively enforce against any property otherwise legally compliant with zoning and in which there are not immediate health and safety concerns where the property owner has submitted a request for a pre-application conference, application for zoning review, or a License application by June 5, 2021.

Questions or Complaints

Before giving us a call, please check out the FAQs above.

If you have questions or complaints regarding the licensing process for Short-Term Dwelling Rentals, please contact Boulder County Licensing at or 303-441-3930.

For all questions related to zoning, enforcement, or the Short-Term Dwelling Rental land use review processes, please contact Boulder County Community Planning & Permitting at 303-441-3930 or use the Ask a Planner form.

Licensed Short-Term Dwelling & Vacation Rentals in Unincorporated Boulder County

View Short-Term Dwelling & Vacation Rental Locations in Unincorporated Boulder County – Unincorporated Boulder County in a new window.

Contact Us

Community Planning & Permitting (formerly the Land Use Dept.)

Email: Ask a Planner Form
Main: 303-441-3930

Courthouse Annex Building

2045 13th Street
Boulder, CO 80302
Hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Map & Directions

Mailing Address

Community Planning & Permitting
PO Box 471
Boulder, CO 80306