I’m writing this letter in response to a May 5 article about short-term rentals titled “Proposed program could expand long-term rental market.” It got me thinking and now I have a few questions. The article basically outlined some possible programs and safeguards for a potential landlord, but what about safeguards for tenants? My first question: “If I owned a rental that I wanted to rent short-term, what kind of incentive would make me want to rent it long-term instead?” The answer: There is no incentive. Through short-term renting, I could rent for a few weekends a year for almost the same price as renting year-round, I could visit my property whenever I wanted, and I wouldn’t have the wear and tear of long-term renting. Now, if I were a Telluride resident I might be inclined to rent out of the goodness of my heart and my own love for giving back to the community, but for the reasons listed above it would still be in my best interest to rent short-term. Most of the proposals listed in the article: screening tenants, providing free property management and rent guarantees, primarily affect the tenant. Screening my background and income? An outside source deciding for me whether I can rent or not? What happened to a good old-fashioned lease agreement between landlord and tenant?

My second question: What safeguards do we have in place for tenants? How many dead-beat landlords do you think have rentals in Telluride? How many leaky roofs, 40-year-old carpets, aging and broken appliances do you think there are? My apartment could use several improvements that the landlord is perfectly aware of, but, you know, I bet they could also find someone to replace me in about two seconds flat. Even if the issues make a space unlivable by normal standards, I can’t complain (I’m not even sure who I would complain or report to). I also can’t really make improvements, because who knows if I will be there in six months; I could get the boot.

I think we really need to think outside of the box, Telluride. With rents the way they are, we have a lot of people looking for alternative ways of living. I know of a few people that live in seriously pimped out vans. Both of which have tried living in Telluride but since we don’t allow space for that sort of thing, have had to move on. These were good, professional, young people; people we need here. These aren’t the hippie van goers of yesteryear. Why not make a space for them? There are definitely some campgrounds in the area that stay empty all year that are permanently closed; these spaces could be of use. I’m not preaching that this is the best solution or even a solution at all, but it’s an idea, and we seem a little short on ideas.

Jackie Stewart