The City of Vancouver has accepted that Airbnb is here to stay and, instead of trying to ban the service outright, has drafted regulations to govern short-term rentals.
The proposed rules are posted online at vancouver.ca/short-term-rentals. People can weigh in at a public hearing that’s going to happen sometime this fall.
Renting a room, apartment, or entire home without a business licence is illegal in Vancouver. But that hasn’t stopped thousands of residents from using digital services like Airbnb to connect with short-term tenants.
There were nearly 6,000 such listings online as of April 2017, according to a media release. The city says its proposed framework would make between 70 and 80 percent of those legal while the other 1,000 would still be illegal and subject to enforcement.
The key difference separating the two groups is whether what is being rented is defined as a principal residence.
“The proposed regulations would legalize short-term rentals in Vancouver in principal residences for periods of less than 30 days at a time,” the release states. “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.”
Once the new regulations are in place, people who want to rent a room to somebody on Airbnb or another digital service will be able to do so legally by obtaining a business licence for a “low fee”.
“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,” said Kaye Krishna, the city’s general manager of development, buildings, and licensing quoted in a media release. “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 city says that dates for the public hearing will be published in late-August.