Chelan County Commissioners are trying to figure out how to keep all the short-term rental operators in compliance with county code. 

The county estimates there are up to 1,500 known rental units in Chelan County, and it's not known how many have proper permits. 

Interim Director of Community Development Deanna Walter says the county needs to closely document and verify the activities of short-term rental operators. 

"The ones that are not playing by the rules are also hedging their bets, right?" said Walter. "I may get caught this weekend. I may not get caught that weekend. But if my fine is only $750 a day, and I'm taking in $2,000 for the weekend, and I only get caught for one day, then I'm still money ahead, right?" 

The county has three code enforcement personnel, but commissioners want to get the sheriff's office more involved in short term rental compliance. 

The enforcement personnel only work on weekdays. Most short-term rental demand in Chelan County, outside of the summer tourist season, is in weekends. 

Walter told commissioners this week that she would try to arrange a time for them to meet with Sheriff Mike Morrison and the code enforcement personnel to discuss ways to get deputies more involved in short-term rental compliance. 

She said the county needs to crack down on the hundreds of operators who are illegally offering short-term lodging. 

“We need to figure out a better way to bring those properties into compliance, because we do have 600-800 of them that have done everything they needed to do to legally operate,” Walter said. 

There are also 67 short-term rental operators who had proper permits for 2022, but did not apply for renewal for 2023 by the deadline. It’s not known how many of those properties are still offering short-term rental space.  

Regulation of short-term rental properties in Chelan County started last year after commissioners passed a new code in 2021 that established the operating standards for such operations.

The code came after more than two years of discussions between the county and community members. The short-term short-term rental industry has seen rapid growth in most recent years in Chelan County.

The county sends out a renewal reminder on September 1 each year to permitted owners or operators, notifying them of the renewal requirement.

Short-term rental permits expire annually on Dec. 31, regardless of when they're issued. All annual permitting fees are not pro-rated.

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