Vancouver takes steps towards legalizing short-term rentals

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To address the almost 6,000 illegal short-term rentals in Vancouver, City staff presented a newly proposed regulatory framework to Council today.

Vancouver is facing a housing affordability crisis and rental vacancies are at extreme low rates, yet Vancouver has seen short-term rental listings grow rapidly over the past few years. In April 2017, there were 5,927 short-term rentals listed on nine websites, up 10 per cent since June 2016, and the three years prior showed increases of 80 per cent, year-over-year.

The new proposals would allow short-term rentals in the principal residence of both owners and renters and would enable 70 to 80 per cent of existing listings to operate legally in Vancouver. The City estimates at least 1,000 of the 6,000 units are not principal residences and would not be supported as short-term rentals by the new regulations.

Currently, short-term rentals are not allowed in Vancouver except for hotels or bed-and-breakfasts that are zoned and licensed accordingly. Given the size of the existing unregulated market and extensive feedback from stakeholders and public consultation, the City has identified that there is a need enable some short-term rentals in Vancouver.

“We received a lot of feedback that reflected both the positive impacts and the serious challenges associated with short-term rentals. A lot of residents are concerned about noise, safety and security, while others – homeowners and renters alike – told us they rely on the extra income to support their families and offset their cost of living,” says Kaye Krishna, General Manager of Development, Buildings and Licensing. “We’ve also heard from renters about the increasing challenge of finding available, affordable long-term rental units. We’ve seen evidence from other cities that short-term rentals not only take away from the long-term supply, but put upward pressures on rents. We feel the proposed regulations will protect long-term rental supply while enabling supplemental income for residents.”

The proposed regulations would legalize short-term rentals in Vancouver in principal residences for periods of less than 30 days at a time. A principal residence unit is where someone lives most of the year, pays their bills, cooks their meals, and receives government mail. Basement suites, laneway homes, and investment properties, which are not a principal residence unit, will not be allowed to be rented short-term, but can be rented for periods of 30 days or more. All residents wishing to rent short-term will be required to obtain a low-fee business licence, which is required today for hotels, bed and breakfasts, and people who provide long-term rentals.

City Council will now consider the proposed new regulations at a public hearing in fall 2017. Members of the public can check vancouver.ca/short-term-rentals in late August for the public hearing meeting date and to sign-up to speak. Staff have proposed to enact the regulations in the spring of 2018; in the meantime the City will continue to prohibit short-term rentals.

Source: City of Vancouver