Liberty Grove Outsources STR Compliance

What’s Granicus? 

Ulrik Binzer founded a company called Host Compliance in 2015 to help municipalities and taxing authorities track short-term-rental (STR) property compliance with local and state regulations.

About 18 months ago, a larger software company named Granicus purchased Binzer’s company. Binzer now works for Granicus as the general manager of its compliance services. Granicus has about 450 STR compliance customers in the U.S. and Canada, 20 of those in four Midwestern states (Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota and Michigan), according to Lindsay Rand of LaunchSquad, Granicus’ public-relations firm. The eight existing Wisconsin clients, in addition to Liberty Grove, include the municipalities of Hudson, Williams Bay, Dunn, Rome, Holland and Madison, plus Oneida County and the Green Bay Area Room Tax Commission.

Granicus isn’t the only company working in the STR enforcement-solutions space, but it has pitched its compliance-monitoring services to several municipalities in Door County. Liberty Grove was the first to bite (see the accompanying story).

What the town is expecting from Granicus in exchange for an annual fee of $7,830 is a listing of all STR addresses and their owners, a 24/7 hotline through which members of the public can report issues, and assurance that each STR owner is not renting the space to numbers larger than the onsite private wastewater treatment system (POWTS) allows.

Binzer said by phone Tuesday that the company scans digital marketplaces constantly to identify STR locations and then cross-references those with state and local databases to ensure that proper licenses and permits are in place.

“We make all that information available to the assigned town staff and do that in a way they don’t have to spend a lot of time,” Binzer said.

The Granicus software algorithms do all the heavy lifting, but trained staff and analysts confirm the data. With the hotline, neighbors can call 24/7 to report an incident. 

“What we’re asking for is photos, videos, audio recordings – whatever it may be to help town staff hold the bad actors accountable,” Binzer said. The service will also call the owner or authorized agent right away to try to remedy the problem. 

“So it is helpful for shutting down problems in real time as well as documenting the issues,” he said.

Granicus has offices in Canada, Denver, St. Paul and Washington, D.C. The company primarily offers “citizen-engagement solutions software,” Binzer said, to help governments interact with their citizens through increased engagement, communications and transparency. The software does everything from sending text notifications for emergencies, to writing municipal meeting agendas, to implementing online permitting and tax collection. 

“It’s kind of a complete suite of software tools that makes it easy to broadcast information to residents and get it back from them about what they care about,” Binzer said.