Latest News – July 22

Tiny House Could Mean BIG Trouble in Leadville

With the local housing crunch reaching an all-time high and no plan in place to help residents, the search for a reasonably priced place to live has many thinking about tiny houses.

The current Lake County Land Use and Building Codes don't roll out the welcome mat for tiny houses - be aware! Photo:

The current Lake County Land Use and Building Codes don’t roll out the welcome mat for tiny houses – be aware! Photo:

But it’s “Buyer Beware!” when it comes to these small dwellings, according to Lake County Land Use and Building Codes, which don’t necessarily roll out the welcome mat for these alternative domiciles.

The code reads that dwelling units are required to be no less than 600 sq. ft., meet Lake County snow and wind loads, the 2012  International Residential Code and other local requirements, and have an approved source of water and method of sewage disposal.

So for those of you who have been considering a remodel or may already have something underway this summer to take advantage of the recent rental crunch, you’d better make sure that you have done so by the book. For example, accessory structures are not for human habitation and are not permitted on property that doesn’t have a permitted primary structure. That’s right that RV or camper parked on your property that you are using as a “temp house” is illegal if you don’t have a permit in place for the primary structure that you plan to build, fix-up, etc. No more perpetually camping out on your property if you don’t have a permit in place to build that house!

So what about those smaller structures many have on their property? Well, if they are less than 200 sq. ft. and being used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar capacities, then you’re good to go. However these spaces can NOT be used as temporary housing or a rental property during race season.

For more information on building and land use permit requirements please contact Lake County Building and Land Use at 719-486-2875 or visit their website.

If you’re looking for more information regarding drinking water, gray water and sewage disposal permit requirements, then the Lake County Public Health Agency is the place to get additional requirements. Contact the local Director of Environmental Health Jackie Littlepage at, 719-486-7481 or stop by 112 West 5th Street. More information is available online HERE.

Also, keep in mind that proper emergency access and defensible space may also be required by the Leadville/Lake County Fire Department. For more information on fire and emergency requirements please call Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal Steve Boyle for more information: 719-486-2990 or email at

It’s also a good time to remind Lake County residents that if you are renting any lodging during race season – or any time of year – then be sure to be registered and pay your lodging tax requirement or you could face a ticket and fines for violating the code.  Here are the details of the Lake County Lodging Tax.Rental_Sign

If you rent out your Leadville/Lake County home for the race season, holidays, or spring break, you are responsible for paying the appropriate taxes. While some homeowners are under the impression that those guidelines are only applicable for rental periods OVER 30 days, that is not true, according to the Lake County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. These transactions are subject to the lodging tax as well. 

If you rent out your home for under thirty days, under State law you are required to collect 2.9% state sales tax, 4% county tax, and 1.9% lodging tax and remit it to the Colorado Department of Revenue.  If you do rent your home – or any part of it –  please contact the Clerk’s office at 719-486-1410 to begin the paperwork for this process.


So there you have it, more restrictions and less solutions; more regulations and less representation concerning local needs.  If you’re building this summer, you’d better make sure you’re doing it by the books, because people are watching and taking note of violations in their neighborhoods and reporting them accordingly. But by all means, keep those hammers swinging and those saws a-buzzing – you’re going to need the extra cash to pay your rent!

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