Short-term rentals being used for parties, sheriff’s office says

Officials urge property owners to vet renters

Posted 4/29/19

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is urging property owners to be vigilant before renting their homes on sites like Airbnb after it saw a recent uptick in large parties being held at rental …

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Short-term rentals being used for parties, sheriff’s office says

Officials urge property owners to vet renters

Posted

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is urging property owners to be vigilant before renting their homes on sites like Airbnb after it saw a recent uptick in large parties being held at rental locations in the county.

Chief Deputy Steve Johnson with the sheriff’s office said in early April the agency has responded to about five incidents of underage drinking or partying at rental sites in the past six months.

“We’ve just had a rash of large parties, and of course when we break them up and when we take a look at them what we’re finding is kids, not kids from Douglas County, but from other areas in the metro area, somehow rented these homes,” he said. “Neighbors are not dumb. They call us. They know what’s going on.”

The most recent party grew to around 200 to 250 people at a property near Meridian Village before authorities were alerted. Johnson said law enforcement contacted the owner and confirmed the site was an Airbnb. Other locations included the Franktown area and Highlands Ranch.

Spokespersons for the Castle Rock Police Department, Lone Tree Police Department and Parker Police Department said they have not seen the same trend within their jurisdictions but some of the agencies had assisted the sheriff’s office in responding to parties.

Johnson was not aware of any charges or citations that resulted from the calls but said there remains an open investigation around allegations a person was firing a weapon at the more than 200-person gathering near Meridian Village.

For now, the sheriff’s office is suggesting people vet guests before renting.

Airbnb allows hosts to establish “house rules” and encourages them to provides “house manuals” for visitors. Rules can range from taking off shoes inside to whether smoking is allowed. Property owners can also purchase insurance that covers liabilities and property damage.

Hosts can take additional precautions as well, requiring guests complete a verification process. Verification could require guests to provide a government ID before booking. The process doesn’t guarantee a person’s identity — Johnson suspects some of the renters provided false identities to book the Douglas County party sites — but it will tell the host if a renter provided that information to Airbnb. Photos of a person’s ID are not provided to the host.

Additional safety and security measure for both guests and hosts can be found on the Airbnb website, and the sites for similar rental networks.

“Don’t get me wrong, 99% of these transactions, they’re made in good faith, and they’re made for the right reasons,” Johnson said, adding that rentals used for parties typically saw trashing of the property. “It only takes one time.”

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