Vancouver moves to legalize short-term rentals

City tries to balance needs of local renters and property owners

Credit: City of Vancouver

City tries to balance needs of local renters and property owners

The City of Vancouver is proposing regulations to allow 70 to 80 per cent of the nearly 6,000 existing short-term rental listings to operate legally. The City feels the proposed regulations will protect long-term rental supply while enabling supplemental income for residents.

Currently, the only legal short-term rentals are hotels or bed-and-breakfasts that are zoned and licensed. In April, there were 5,927 short-term rentals listed on nine websites, an increase of 10 per cent since June 2016, with annual increases of 80 per cent the three previous years.

Residents are divided on the pros and cons of 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, general manager of development, buildings and licensing, in a news release July 11. “We’ve also heard from renters about the increasing challenge of finding available, affordable long-term rental units.” Evidence from other cities suggests that short-term rentals not only decrease the long-term supply but also put upward pressure on rents.

The regulations would legalize short-term rentals for periods of less than 30 days at a time in principal residences only. A principal residence unit is where someone lives most of the year, pays their bills, cooks their meals and receives government mail. It will still be illegal to rent basement suites, laneway homes and investment properties that are not a principal residence unit for less than 30 days at a time. Anyone wishing to rent short-term will have to obtain a business licence, just as hotels, bed and breakfasts and landlords offering long-term rentals do currently.

City council will consider the proposed regulations at a public hearing in fall 2017 with an eye to enacting them next spring.