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Pilot program incentivizes long-term rentals in South Lake Tahoe

A tilt-shift view of South Lake Tahoe. A city is in focus from a distance, while a lake, trees and a mountainscape surround it.
Ryan O’Shea
Flickr Creative Commons
A view of South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

A new pilot program aims to convert vacant vacation homes in South Lake Tahoe into long-term rentals for the local workforce.

A 2018 voter-led initiative in the South Lake Tahoe area has barred property owners from renting their homes for a short term, and it goes into full effect this year.

Colin Frolich is co-founder of a pilot program called Lease to Locals, which is in partnership with the City of South Lake Tahoe. He says instead of pivoting to renting long term, property owners are letting their places stay vacant.

“South Lake Tahoe is predominantly second homes that sit empty most of the year,” Frolich said.

He hopes that with this program, property owners change their minds. The idea is to incentivize renting long term to households who make less than $79,000 a year.

For context, minimum wage workers in California make under $30,000 a year, and the median income per person in the South Lake Tahoe area is around $49,000.

Ultimately, the program will pay potential landlords $2,000 annually for each room they rent, for up to five rooms, on top of the rental income. The city is tapping into funds they got from the American Rescue Plan to fund this pilot.

Frolich says this program is meant for people like healthcare workers, teachers and ski instructors.

“What we’re trying to do is carve out some of this housing inventory for the local workforce,” he said.

Rent caps are also in place for homes that have one bedroom or more. Lease to Local has already started similar programs in Truckee and Summit County in Colorado.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

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Gustavo Sagrero is a former bilingual reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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