Is it Legal to Operate an Airbnb Rental In Niwot?

Short Term Rentals in Niwot and Boulder County

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In the last few years a number of Airbnb short-term rentals have popped up in Niwot.

For the most part there have been few issues with guests or tenants, but recently a couple of  large group rentals have upset neighbors. The complaint is that the large groups make a lot of noise, clog the street with vehicles, leave trash and are generally inconsiderate of the quiet Niwot neighborhood life.

An additional issue is that real estate investors have been buying or leasing condos and homes and converting them into short term rentals. This creates a situation where the investor is not connected to Niwot or local neighbors and is not as sensitive to the impact on the neighborhood.

The $64,000 question asks if short term rentals, through companies like Airbnb, are legal in Niwot?


How Short Term Rentals Work

Airbnb is a website ( that operates a peer network of private homes available for short–term rental to the public.

It works just like booking a hotel.

You register your home as available for rent at and list it on the rental listing platform. A renter can view your listing online and book and pay for your home for a period of time.

Most rentals are considered short-term as they are for less than 30 days.

Here’s a map view showing recent Airbnb rentals in Niwot and Gunbarrel.

Is it Legal?

The short answer is that it is perfectly legal to rent your home out short term in Niwot and Boulder County as long as you adhere to a number of simple rules and follow a simple registration process with Boulder County Land Use Department.

These rules apply to a legal dwelling, in Boulder County, for a period less than 30-days.

The regulations provide that a short term rental that will be rented for more than 14 days a year must be registered and obtain a license from Boulder County. The application must adhere to strict safety, parking and use restrictions.

For a longer answer we’ll break down some of the main regulations in the Land Use Code.

Boulder County short-term rentals are governed by Article 4 of The Boulder County Land Use Code.

Lodging use is prescribed in Article 4 4-507.

You can view the entire Article 4 at

Each city may have it’s own (and very different) municipal rules. The city of Boulder has cracked down on short-term rentals and only allows them on a very restricted basis. Specifically, you need to own the home and use it as your primary residence.

If you rent out your home for more than 30-days this is considered a long-term rental or lease and it is common practice to enter into a lease agreement. The short-term rental laws do not apply to leases over 30 days.

Disclaimer – we’re not attorneys and we’re not giving legal advice. As always, hire your own attorney. Note also that Boulder County is reviewing its short term rental policy and may adopt a new policy that is more in line with the city of Boulder.

  • Your home must be a legal dwelling

This just means your home must be properly planned and permitted and up to code.

Most homes are already legal dwellings.

Problems may arise if you make additions or improvements to your home that are not properly permitted or you build a “carriage house” or granny cottage without planning approval.

  • It must be in Boulder County

Remember that the County rules are much simpler and tolerant than the City of Boulder rules. Niwot is an unincorporated designated area in Boulder County and falls under the Boulder County Land Use Code.

  • It Must Be Less Than 30 Days

Rentals for more than 30 days are considered long term rentals and are not covered by the short-term rental regulations.

  • The Number of Days Per Year That You Rent Out Your Home Is Important

This is where things get a little complex, as there are different rules if you rent your home for less than 15 days of the whole year.

If you rent your home out for less than 15 days a year there are basically no additional use rule restrictions and you can do so by right.

If you rent your home out for between 15 and 45 days a year you will have a number of additional use rule restrictions, depending on the location of your home.

If you rent your home out for more than 45 days you will be subject to a number of use rule restrictions and may be required to obtain a Limited Impact Special Review.

Use Restrictions

Here are the most common use rule restrictions:

  • Parking – one parking space per bedroom
  • Maximum Occupancy – two adults per bedroom or a maximum of 8 people (unless approved in writing by the Land Use Director).
  • Historic Homes – no additional restrictions
  • Family Care and Agricultural Accessory Units – no short-term rentals

You Must Register And Get Approval From the County Land Use Department

You must submit a short-term rental application form and get approved by the Boulder County Land Use Department at the Boulder County Annex at:

Courthouse Annex Building

2045 13th Street
Boulder, CO 80302

8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. M, W, Th, F
10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tuesday

Tel: (303) 441-3930

Your application will be subject to the these Additional Provisions and must meet the following standards:

  • (i)  Owners must complete a short-term dwelling rental registration form and submit it to the Land Use Department where the registration form shall be available for public review. The registration form will include the address of the rental unit, the number of bedrooms in the house, the owner’s name, address, and phone number, and the name and phone number of a property manager, if applicable.
  • (ii)  Dwellings must have an on-site wastewater system recognized and approved by Boulder County Public Health according to their applicable regulations. Existing systems do not need to be repaired or replaced unless required by Boulder County Public Health.
  • (iii)  Dwellings must have been constructed under a valid building permit and received final inspection approval and meet applicable Building Code requirements as required when the dwelling was constructed or when upgrades to the structure subject to a building permit were made. Structures built before building permit requirements were imposed shall be structurally sound, with any plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling systems in a good state of repair.
  • (iv)  The parcel on which the dwelling is located must be a legal building lot under this Code, and legal access from a public road to the subject parcel must be demonstrated.
  • (v)  Dwellings must contain operable re extinguishers in each bedroom and in the kitchen.
  • (vi)  Dwellings must contain operable smoke detectors in each bedroom and additional locations where 
  • (vii)  Dwellings must contain an operable carbon monoxide detector in the dwelling installed as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • (viii)  This use must comply with the adopted Boulder County noise ordinance as applicable.
  • (ix)  A map clearly indicating the subject parcel boundaries and appropriate parking spaces must be 
provided to renters.
  • (x)  For dwellings rented out 45 nights or less per year, two adults per bedroom with a maximum of eight people may occupy one dwelling, unless the Director approves a greater capacity, which can be demonstrated based on parking, parcel size, the on-site wastewater system, or other relevant circumstance.
  • (xi)  For dwellings rented 46 nights per year or more, the maximum occupancy of the dwelling shall be two adults per bedroom with a maximum of eight people or a lower number of people based on the size of the permitted and approved on-site wastewater system, unless the Director approves a greater capacity, which can be demonstrated based on parking, parcel size, the on-site wastewater system, or other relevant circumstance.

If you rent your home out for more than 45-days a year then you may be required to just through additional hoops and obtain a Limited Impact Special Review.

For rental intensities that require Limited Impact Special Review:

  • (i)  The requirement for Limited Impact Special Review may be waived if the Director determines the short-term dwelling rental will not have the potential for significant conflict with the criteria listed in Article 4-601 of this Code. The Director may impose written terms and conditions on the short-term dwelling rental use as may be reasonably necessary to avoid conflict with the review criteria in Article 4-601. Any short-term dwelling unit for which the Director waives Limited Impact Special Review shall still be subject to the Additional Provisions of Article 4-507(E)(6).
  • (ii)  Notice of the waiver application being reviewed shall be sent to referral agencies and adjacent property owners.
  • (iii)  If the Director grants a waiver, the owner shall submit an annual report to the Department which shall be made available for public review. The report shall indicate the number of nights the dwelling was rented in the previous year, the number of bedrooms, contact information for the owner and property manager (if applicable) of the dwelling, and additional items as required by the Director related to the administration of this Article 4-507(E).

In plain English this means you may be required to notify you neighbors, file a history of past performance and comply with any additional terms and conditions imposed by the Director and at the Director’s sole discretion.

How Do I Rent My Niwot Home On Airbnb?

It’s a simple process to list your home on Airbnb. Just go to the website and register your home through their online registration form. You will be asked to provide personal details, details of your home, including photos, and to set your rental rate.

That’s the easy part!

The more difficult part is to register your home with the Boulder County Land Use Department and get inspected and approved to operate a short term rental.

You can contact the Land Use Department at:

Courthouse Annex Building

2045 13th Street
Boulder, CO 80302

Tel: (303) 441-3930

How Do I Shut Down An Airbnb Rental Home in My Neighborhood?

A number of people are unhappy with having a short-term rental home in their neighborhood. The main complaints are usually about parking congestion and noise.

In Boulder County it is very difficult to shut down a short-term rental as it is relatively easy for the homeowner to register and comply with County Land Use Regulations.

  • Start with the Owner

A conversation with the owner is your best chance to end the use of the home as a short-term rental. The owner may be sympathetic to your concerns and may be having second thoughts about keeping the home as a short-term rental.

  • Check Your HOA

If you’re in a neighborhood with a HOA you may have rules that prevent the use of a home as a short-term rental.

  • Check With The County

All short-term rental applications are public so you can review the homeowner’s application, as well as annual report, to confirm that the home is compliant with the Land Use Code.

If the lodging use is not compliant you can notify the Director of the non-compliance and request that the enforcement department sanction the homeowner.

  • Noise and Nuisance Laws

Boulder County has a comprehensive set of noise and nuisance regulations that can be enforced by their enforcement division.

More Resources

Boulder County Land Use Department

Courthouse Annex Building

2045 13th Street
Boulder, CO 80302

Tel: (303) 441-3930

Short-Term Rental Websites









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Ross Hair

Ross Hair is a real estate agent and the Broker / Owner of Boco Realty LLC.