The B.C. government has introduced new legislation to regulate the rapidly expanding short-term rental market in an attempt to return homes to the long-term rental market.
The laws are being put in place to crack down on a massive increase in vacation rentals by owners. This may include rental listings on online platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO, Expedia, and FlipKey.
Under the new rules, when passed, British Columbians will legally only be able to rent out a primary residence and one more additional secondary suite as a short-term rental.
But the legislation does not provide a blanket ban on these rentals and smaller municipalities are not included.
“Anyone who’s looking for an affordable place to live knows how hard it is, and short-term rentals are making it even more challenging,” Premier David Eby said,
“That’s why we’re taking strong action to rein in profit-driven mini-hotel operators, create new enforcement tools and return homes to the people who need them.”
Communities with populations of 10,000 or less are exempt from the legislation but can decide to opt into the new rules.
B.C.͛s short-term rental market is now at an all-time high, with approximately 28,000 daily active short-term rental listings in B.C., marking an increase of 20 per cent from a year ago.
Data indicates that more than 16,000 entire homes are being listed as short-term rentals for the majority of a calendar year.
The new legislation is a complex set of rules including providing significant power to municipalities to either add stricter rules or to avoid enforcing private enterprises providing short-term rentals.
For municipalities, when passed, the legislation will increase fines for operators breaking local rules to support local municipal bylaws and will require short-term rental platforms to share data to strengthen local enforcement.
In all areas, primary residences can be rented out at any time along with one additional suite.
However, a municipality like Vancouver could decide to continue with current rules and restrict rentals even further through local by-laws.
“We are in a housing crisis and this will be a big step to ensure folks in Vancouver and across B.C. have more access to attainable housing,” Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim said in a statement.
B.C.’s Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon added that the legislation is designed to target those areas with more housing needs, such as Vancouver.
“It’s strong action and a thoughtful approach to tackle the growing short-term rental challenge and deliver more homes for people,” he said.
At least 30 municipalities in B.C. have introduced bylaws and licence fees. These bylaws range in levels of restrictions and rules toward hosting short-term rentals.
In Victoria, approximately 1,600 hosts are operating under the legal non-conforming clause, which prohibits city bylaws from applying to certain buildings and homes.
Based on business licence counts from a sample of 15 municipalities, the province estimates the percentage of non-compliant short-term rental listings in 2023 is about 40 to 50 per cent.
This proposed legislation will not apply to hotels and motels. Regulations are also being drafted to exempt additional types of properties, for example, timeshares and fishing lodges, which are not intended to be covered under the scope of the legislation.
Communities on First Nations reserve land will be exempt from the legislation, the government outlined in a statement. Modern Treaty Nations will also be exempt from the legislation but will be able to opt into the legislation if desired.
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