City of Burnaby moves closer to regulating short-term rental housing, including Airbnb units

Staff have proposed an enforcement regime in a report going to the planning and development committee

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      Burnaby is the last of the five largest Metro Vancouver municipalities to allow homeowners to rent out units on a short-term basis without any licensing fees.

      But that could change in the future, depending on how the planning and development committee responds at its Tuesday (May 26) meeting to a staff report that it requested last January.

      Director of planning Ed Kozak and public safety and community services director Dave Critchley have recommended that the committee endorse requiring a business licence to operate a short-term rental, which they define as less than 30 nights.

      In addition, the two senior staff members have recommended that the committee support permitting short-term rentals "as an accessory use" in legal units occupied on a permanent basis by a homeowner or tenant.

      Exceptions would be homes that already have a secondary suite or flex suites, as well as any purpose-built rental unit.

      These short-term rentals would only be allowed to accommodate a maximum of four unrelated people or six related people at any time.

      "Fees are proposed to be based on a cost recovery model," the report states.

      The region's four other largest municipalities—Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, and Coquitlam—already charge licensing fees ranging from $49 to $162 per year to operate short-term rental units or bed-and-breakfast businesses.

      The report also calls for only allowing those with a licence to advertise their units.

      If the committee supports these recommendations, they would have to be approved in the future by Burnaby council.

      In January, the City of Burnaby obtained data from a third-party data-monitoring firm, Host Compliance Inc., which showed that there were 1,583 listings in Burnaby in 1,438 dwelling units.

      Of those, 55 percent of the listings were for the entire home. The average nightly rate was $80 and the highest density of listings was in the Metrotown area.

      The report noted that there are about 31,600 units of market rental housing in Burnaby. The city's vacancy rate fell to 1.3 percent in 2019, down from 2 percent the previous year.

      "Short term rentals can affect the rental housing supply when vacant dwelling units that could otherwise be rented to long term tenants are offered as nightly accommodation for tourists and visitors," the report states.

      The report reveals that current enforcement for short-term rentals is conducted in response to complaints.

      Kozak and Critchley have proposed an "active approach".

      "This would involve actively searching various online platforms for short term rental ads, working with a third party data monitoring firm to receive ongoing detailed data and supporting evidence regarding short term rental activity in Burnaby and potentially hiring additional staff dedicated to this topic area."

      Burnaby's planning and development committee is chaired by Coun. Pietro Calendino and includes councillors Sav Dhaliwal, Joe Keithley, Paul McDonnell, and James Wang.