Airbnb: How B.C. will "police" new proposed short-term rental regulations

It feels as if BC is trying to make it difficult for locals to make money and support other industries such as tourism and film.

The topic today is Airbnb.  BC is planning on changing the regulations around Airbnb.   Starting spring 2024, there is proposed to be a new provincial short-term rental enforcement team which will crack down on illegal Airbnbs.

The Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act, which is expected to come into force before the end of the fall legislative session.  Click here for the act.  If a short term Airbnb isn't in the operator’s principal residence,they risk hefty fines of $3,000 per infraction, per day.

There is an exception which is for communities of less than 10,000 people and 14 resort communities including Tofino, Whistler and Osoyoos unless they choose to opt in.

Very little details have been shared about the new budget or personnel assigned to the proposed enforcement team, which will begin looking for illegal short-term rentals when the rules take effect May 1 2024.  This is where I interject and remind everyone - this is costing us more tax dollars to have this new rule in place.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said this week that the new unit will be similar to the 10-person Residential Tenancy Branch’s enforcement team, which is led by former Victoria police superintendent Scott McGregor.

About 30 municipalities already regulate short-term rentals through bylaws and licence fees. Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna limit short-term rentals to the principal residence =  the owner or tenant must live in the home.

The problem is, according to B.C. Premier David Eby, “cities that want to deal with this problem have been trying to figure out how to enforce it.”

The B.C. NDP government’s fix is to create a provincial registry of short-term rentals, which will be up-and-running in late 2024. That registry can be cross-referenced with the province’s speculation and vacancy tax disclosure form which requires British Columbians to declare their primary residence.  That data will be shared with local municipalities to help them in their own crackdown efforts.

“This new legislation and the registry will create the ability to spit out a printout of numbers, the business licences that they can match-up with the business licences on the (short-term rental) platforms, which will be legally required to co-operate with us,” Eby said.

It is estimated in Vancouver that 40% of the 5,000 active short-term rental listings are breaking the city’s bylaws, which state that a short-term rental can only operate in someone’s principal residence, which includes a laneway house, basement suite or in one’s home or condo while they’re away on vacation.

The city’s team is apparently comprised of eight staff — six enforcement clerks, one enforcement coordinator and one dedicated property-use inspector — who investigate complaints and review online listings using various sources including software called Host Compliance, which captures screenscrape data from multiple listing platforms. The team also reviews the data provided through an agreement with Airbnb.

“Staff proactively investigates illegal listings and has a variety of options to address suspicious listings such as conducting an audit or inspection, issuing a violation ticket or warning letter, and suspending a business licence,” Hicks says.

Short-term rental operators flouting the bylaws are subject to fines of up to $1,000 per offence and may be referred to the prosecutor’s office for legal action, she said.

 Since Vancouver’s bylaws came into effect in 2018, the city has had 2,266 licences flagged for investigations, 136 so far this year. The city has written 1,712 warning letters — 85 in 2023 — and issued 1,040 legal orders, including 161 this year.

I personally think the effects of this are going to have impact on the film industry, tourism industry and much more.  This will in turn effect the local businesses, restaurants, retail store and so fourth.  BC is making it harder and harder for those local who live here to make any sort of extra income.  If you have any questions about short-term rental accomodations reach out.  


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