Airbnb
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On Thursday, Victoria’s City Council could throw a wrench into the plans of anyone planning to host on Airbnb.

A recommendation from Jonathan Tinney, the city’s Director of Sustainable Planning and Community Development, will be introduced in an attempt to limit Short Term Rentals (STRs) “to the greatest extent possible.”

Tinney’s recommendation is in response to a council direction earlier this year to explore regulatory options for STRs.

STRs are already prohibited in Victoria for most housing situations. However, enforcement has previously been minimal.

This new recommendation could ramp up enforcement and fines for prohibited Airbnb hosts and force those who are permitted to purchase business licenses.

Six Most Common STR Situations

Tinney’s report cites a council workshop January 19, 2017. During that workshop, the council decided on regulatory directions for the six most common short-term rental situations in Victoria.

Scenario Current Regulation Regulatory Direction Approved by Council January 19
Entire condo with no transient zoning Prohibited Proactively enforce current prohibition in zoning so STRs cease

 

Entire condo with transient zoning Permitted Proactively enforce current zoning rights through business license registration: Monitor use through business license tracking
1-2 bedrooms within occupied condo Prohibited Permit and proactively enforce through business license registration and tracking (neutral effect on rental market, adds flexibility and affordability for primary residents and fairness across housing types and tenures)

 

Entire homes Prohibited Proactively enforce current regulations so STRs cease
Entire secondary suites (including garden suites) Prohibited Proactively enforce current regulations so STRs cease
1-2 bedrooms within occupied single family detached Permitted Proactively enforce current zoning rights through business license registration; Monitor use through business license tracking

 

The new directive, to be introduced during the “Unfinished Business” section of the meeting, suggests various regulatory tools.

Introducing a “comprehensive scheme of business regulations” for Airbnb hosts is among the recommended points. Eligible hosts would have to pay business license fees, comply with strata rules, and adhere to yet-to-be-established rules of operation.

The report also directs staff to report back with a short-term rental enforcement strategy.

For many hosts, this could mean fines and/or escalatory action.

Full list of recommendations:

That Council direct staff to:
1. Limit short term rentals in Victoria to the greatest extent possible through appropriate
language in the Zoning Regulation Bylaw, housing agreements, or other available tools to
ensure that all new residential zoned units are used for the primary purpose of housing,
rather than as short-term rentals (STR).
2. Bring forward a comprehensive scheme of business regulations for existing and future short-term rentals. Such regulations may include:
a. requirements for a business licence for all short-term rentals
b. business licence fees
c. requirement that business activity comply with applicable strata rules
d. establishing appropriate rules for operation of short-term rentals.
3. Work with the BC Assessment Authority to ensure that properties used for short-term rental are properly assessed as Class 6 – business and other
4. Report back with a short-term rental enforcement strategy that will detail considerations for proactive enforcement of City-wide short-term rental including:
a. benefits and challenges of manual (staff led) enforcement vs. enlisting third party STR management assistance
b. fines and escalatory action for non-compliance
c. audit options to monitor adherence to rules and regulations
d. engaging STR host platforms for regulatory cooperation
e. additional policies, regulations, and programs to ensure compliance with regulations.     f. expediting the time frame for rolling out enforcement
g. creating a dedicated short-term rental webpage for clarity and transparency
regarding new regulations that outlines the City’s progress on reducing short-term
rental impact on long-term rental housing availability
h. establishing a monitoring system to evaluate success of short-term rental regulations
and the Short-Term Rental Enforcement Strategy

The full report is available here.