Sunday, June 23, 2024

BC introduces legislation to push short-term rentals back into housing market


In a move aimed at addressing the growing challenges posed by the short-term rental market and providing more long-term housing options for residents, the BC government has introduced comprehensive legislation.

The new measures are designed to rein in profit-driven operators, enhance enforcement capabilities, and ultimately return homes to those in need.

The legislation, recently unveiled by Premier David Eby, acknowledges the increasing difficulties faced by individuals searching for affordable housing in the province.

“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,” said Eby.

He emphasized that the surge in short-term rental listings has removed thousands of long-term homes from the market, prompting the need for decisive action.

The short-term rental market in British Columbia has experienced rapid growth, with platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, Expedia, and FlipKey seeing a significant increase in listings, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are now approximately 28,000 daily active short-term rental listings in the province, representing a 20% increase from the previous year. More than 16,000 entire homes are listed as short-term rentals for the majority of a calendar year.

“The short-term rental market is creating serious challenges in BC and around the world,͟” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. ͞

“Operators with multiple listings are taking homes off the long-term market to make big profits while people pay the price—it can’ t go on like this. The legislation is comprehensive and designed to target areas with high housing needs. It’s strong action and a thoughtful approach to tackle the growing short-term rental challenge and deliver more homes for people.”

He highlighted that the legislation is designed to target areas with high housing needs and provide a thoughtful approach to addressing the growing short-term rental challenge.

A notable aspect of the legislation is its focus on equipping municipalities with stronger enforcement tools, building on existing bylaws and licence fees already in place in approximately 30 municipalities, including Victoria, Vancouver and Kelowna.

“I’m delighted to see the provincial government stepping in to regulate short-term rentals
across British Columbia. Having provincial policies, oversight, data-sharing requirements and enforcement measures will support municipal efforts to manage short-term rentals to create more homes for British Columbians,” said Marianne Alto, mayor of Victoria.

“Victoria has robust short-term rental regulations, but we welcome the certainty that comes with a provincewide plan to move more units into long- term homes,” she added.

As of right now, Victoria requires short-term rental hosts to have a business license and must be the principal resident.

The legislation will bring about the following changes:

1. Increasing fines and strengthening tools for local governments:

  • Increasing fines for operators who violate local rules. Requiring short-term rental platforms to share data with the province for local enforcement and tax auditing.
  • Mandating the inclusion of business license numbers on listings where required by local governments.
  • Granting regional districts the ability to issue business licenses to regulate short-term rentals in rural areas.

2. Returning more short-term rentals into long-term homes for people:

  • Requiring short-term rentals to be offered only in the principal residence of the host in municipalities with a population of 10,000 or more.
  • Exemptions for certain areas and removal of legal non-conforming use protections.

3. Establishing provincial rules and enforcement:

  • Establishing a provincial host and platform registry.
  • Launching a provincial short-term rental compliance and enforcement unit.

These measures are expected to gradually return thousands of homes to the long-term rental market over the next few years, according to the province.

Communities will also have the flexibility to opt into the principal residence requirements based on housing pressures in their areas.

Communities on First Nations reserve land and Modern Treaty Nations will have exemptions but can choose to opt into the legislation if desired.

Notably, this legislation does not apply to hotels and motels, and additional regulations are being drafted to exempt certain types of properties, such as timeshares and fishing lodges, which fall outside the legislation’s scope.

The introduction of this legislation aligns with the broader “Homes for People” action plan in British Columbia, aiming to provide more housing options and create vibrant communities throughout the province.

The plan, announced in the spring of 2023, builds on previous housing initiatives and seeks to address the pressing housing challenges faced by residents.

Victoria Buzz Staff
Your inside source for Greater Victoria happenings. Established in 2012.

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