A Teton County state legislator plans to propose a fee on unoccupied second homes, potentially offering a new way to counter the area’s housing shortage.

Rep. Mike Yin said he will present his idea to the state Revenue Committee during its meeting Tuesday in Laramie. The fee would apply to houses left empty for more than six months a year, and the Teton County Democrat hopes this would spur homeowners to rent to full-time residents when they’re not around.

“I was thinking about options on how we work on our housing issues in Teton County,” he said, adding that he landed on vacant homes. “The fact that we have so many creates a cumulative impact on the community.”

Besides simply reducing the number of homes available to local workers, Yin said, the abundance of empty homes also raises property taxes for neighbors. He argues that this fee would more fairly distribute the financial burden created by owners of second homes.

In its current draft form, the fee would be a flat rate based on square footage, and the revenue would go toward Wyoming’s Property Tax Refund Program. Each county would be allowed to choose whether to impose the fee.

The Revenue Committee will not be streaming the meeting, which will be held at the Laramie County Community College in Room 108 of the Pathfinder Building.

Read more in Wednesday’s edition of the Jackson Hole News&Guide.

Contact Cody Cottier at 732-5911 or town@jhnewsandguide.com.

Cody Cottier covers town and state government. He grew up with a view of the Olympic Mountains, and after graduating Washington State University he traded it for a view of the Tetons. Odds are the mountains are where you’ll find him when not on deadline.

(3) comments

Bob Kochman

Ok, I'll rent my house to someone because I can only use it 5 months out of the year. You can move in around the muddle of end of October. You have to be out Thanksgiving and Christmas week, the last week of January, the last two weeks of February, the first week of May and around the middle of June till that random October date. Please send a credit report and a $10,000 damage deposit.

Mickey Sutton

So let me think about this. Someone who owns a one million dollar vacation home in JH is going to rent it to a JH worker when he/she is not using it. So when the owner wants to use the home, where does the renter go? And what will the rent be on that home? How does it work that the vacation homes increase the property taxes of full-time resident owners or create a financial burden for them? How does the fees collected, and then transferred to the tax refund program help with the housing shortage? I'm pretty sure that Teton County, the only blue county in WY, is the main place having this problem. I doubt any other counties would embrace this concept, and I suspect this ridiculous "idea" will never get further than a presentation by Representative Yin. It's too bad that meeting won't be streamed.

Ken Chison

Let the socialist mindset begin. Wonder what all the left leaning billionaires think of this. So, do we hire a house inspector to go around and determine if it's vacant or not. Anyone could say their second home is for rent, but, could put the rent at 15,000 a month knowing full well no one will rent it. Then what? Is govt going to determine rent prices as well? Get govt out of the housing business and let a free market dictate it. Too many rules and regs are why the problem exists. Stick to plastic bag bans and other hot topics like how to ban plastic straws now.

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