Flathead County Commissioners today took a step towards legalizing and regulating short-term housing rentals outside of incorporated towns. Vacation rentals by owner, or VRBOs, are currently illegal outside of Kalispell, Columbia Falls and Whitefish, but people are doing it anyway.
Commissioner Pam Holmquist voted in favor of a resolution to change county regulations, which passed on a 2-1 vote.
“We're just trying to help the VRBO individuals and the community have a voice in this,” says Holmquist.
Today’s vote opens another round of public comment that commissioners will consider before voting to adopt or reject the proposal. That will probably happen sometime next month.
If adopted, the new guidelines would require people offering short-term rentals to set maximum occupancies, name a person of contact for the rental, and obtain a public accommodation license from the Flathead City-County Health Department.
At a public hearing last week, commissioners heard mixed testimony, with many rental owners speaking against the proposed regulations, saying they would infringe on property rights.
Commissioners will accept additional public comment on the proposal beginning June 11 through July 11. They will consider those comments before voting to adopt or reject the changes to county codes.