*Case Study: Short-Term Rental License Approval

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By: Bill Henry
PublishedSep 27, 2022
3 minute read


Hotels, motels, and bed-and-breakfasts used to be the only options for a place to stay when traveling  ̶  that is, until short-term rental sites, like Vrbo and Airbnb, popped up on the internet. This new way of renting someone’s house or condo for a vacation or business trip expanded people’s traveling horizons, but it also created numerous legal conundrums for local municipalities and would-be rental hosts.

Our client Dennis* purchased a multi-million-dollar home in Jefferson County as a short-term rental (STR) investment. Dennis’ neighbors were not exactly thrilled about the idea of having an STR in their community, and the county denied the application. But, as the old adage goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

*Facts are those of an actual Robinson & Henry case. We used a pseudonym for our clients. 

Case Background

Jefferson County officials surprised Dennis and his daughter Jenna* when they rejected the STR license application.

“We met all of the qualifications as outlined by the county, so we didn’t think there would be reason for denial,” Jenna said.

Despite the denial, Jenna and her dad weren’t ready to throw in the towel. However, before they made their next move, they wanted to know their legal options and to be as prepared as possible.

When interviewing firms, Jenna said Robinson & Henry stood out. R&H litigation attorneys have helped other clients appeal similar city and county administrative decisions, and were optimistic they could help Dennis and Jenna.

“I felt like their confidence was tempered with a genuine concern for their clients which ended up being the exact right match for us,” Jenna said.

The Issue to Resolve

Unlike some civil cases, this one had one goal: get a short-term rental license.

The question now for R&H and Jenna became: which legal route would carry them to success?

The Client’s Legal Options

Appeal the Denial

Individuals who have their short-term rental applications denied have an opportunity to go through an administrative appeal. But from our experience, those appeals are rarely successful.

Reapply for a License

The other option was to reapply and be as well prepared as possible for the hearing.

Everyone agreed the latter was the best choice.

Preparing for the Administrative Hearing

Joe got busy learning the facts of the case and putting together a plan of action.

“This was an administrative proceeding, which means we only have one real chance,” he said.

Together, R&H and Jenna reviewed the previous administrative hearings and the board’s concerns. They also considered the neighbor’s objections to the STR license.

In cases like these, it’s generally unhelpful to incite neighbors. Instead, R&H attorneys advised Jenna and her father to address the neighbors’ concerns with possible solutions. We also work with county’s attorneys pror to the hearing to resolve their issues with the application.

As the hearing drew closer, Jenna said she and her father felt prepared.

Presenting the Case for a Short-Term Rental License

At the hearing, we presented the county with evidence that Dennis and Jenna had taken the necessary steps to ensure the property was as safe and neighbor-friendly as possible.

R&H introduced numerous expert reports, such as a fire mitigation plan. They also submitted photographs to corroborate the measures implemented by David and Jenna.

“It was so refreshing to go into the meeting knowing we had someone on our side who really cared about us and our future plans,” Jenna told the R&H Marketing Department.

The Outcome

Robinson & Henry’s efforts to work with the opposition rather than against it proved successful. The county board approved Dennis’ short-term rental license with a brief probationary period.

At the end of the six-month probation, Dennis will return to the county board to confirm his STR license has had no violations.

Jenna credits the positive results to Joe’s meticulous preparation for the hearing.

“I truly believe that if we would have represented ourselves, we likely would have been denied again,” Jenna said. “[our attorneys’] care for our victory was evident every step of the way.”

Our Civil Litigation Attorneys Can Help You With an SRT License

If a city or county board has rejected your permit request, whether it’s a construction permit, a short-term rental license, or something else, it’s time to talk with an attorney.

Our civil litigation attorneys have experience helping clients obtain licenses that once were denied. If you’re in this situation, call 303-688-0944 to begin your case assessment.

*Past results afford no guarantee of future results; each matter is different and must be judged on its own merits. Facts are those of an actual Robinson & Henry litigation case. We used a pseudonym for our clients. 

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