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B.C. steps up short-term rental regulations

– Files from Ryley McCormack, My East Kootenay Now

Residential property owners in B.C. will only be able to operate short-term rentals on their primary residence, along with several other changes coming into effect next month.

This comes as the B.C. government takes steps to reign in the market and free up homes for people who want to live in them.

“We are in a housing crisis that requires strong action to deliver more housing for the people who live and work in our communities,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing.

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“The changes passed last fall to tackle the growing short-term rental challenges are already bringing more long-term homes back onto the market. As the rules for hosts and platforms come into effect, we are taking another strong step to deliver more long-term homes for people in communities throughout B.C.”

The changes come into effect on May 1, and will only impact communities with populations over 10,000.

However, local governments can still use existing or additional bylaws aimed at regulating short-term rentals.

B.C. officials said short-term rentals will only be able to operate in the host’s principal residence or one an additional unit, such as a guest house.

Hosts must have a valid business licence number on their listing if their local government requires licensing, and the listing can be removed if they do not have that number displayed.

Hosts and short-term rental owners could face some penalties if they do not comply once the new provincial legislation takes effect.

B.C. will begin phasing in its Short-Term Rental Compliance Enforcement Unit on May 1, which will investigate allegations of non-compliance.

“Administrative penalties for hosts breaking the rules can range from $500 to $5,000 a day per infraction, and up to $10,000 per day for corporations, depending on the infraction,” said the B.C. government.

“Visitors and guests will not face any fines. The unit will also facilitate data sharing and requests to platforms to remove listings.”

Existing short-term rentals will not be spared by grandfathering-in under non-conforming protections, as they will need to conform to B.C.’s new regulations.

“The effect of short-term rental apps like Airbnb, VRBO and others has been the loss of thousands of long-term rental homes in the midst of a housing crisis, driving up the cost of housing for British Columbians,” said Premier David Eby.

“That’s why our government has created balanced new rules to crack down on speculators who are effectively operating mini hotels, while also ensuring homeowners can still rent out spaces in their principal residence.”

Guests who have stays booked in a short-term rental on or after May 1 should check with their host to confirm the unit complies with local and provincial regulations.

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