Condo owners now have a new tool to stop short-term rentals that bring strangers, property damage and other problems to apartments and townhouses throughout B.C.
And the initiative, announced Wednesday by Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson, is giving some comfort to longtime residents of a townhouse development in Coquitlam’s growing town centre.
“We need to be aware but also know our own rights,” said Heather Thew, a resident of Lakeside Terrace, who said residents suspect a short-term rental has been operating for some time in their building because they see different people coming and going, many with suitcases.
Effective Nov. 30, they’ll have more tools to deal with the problem after Robinson promised a change to the Strata Property Regulation that will allow stratas that restrict or ban short-term rentals to fine scofflaws up to $1,000 a day instead of the $200 a week allowed under current regulations.
“It’s important residents have the right tools to effectively manage their properties,” said Robinson, who is also the minister of municipal affairs and housing.
With the rental vacancy rate hovering at 1%, Robinson said she hopes the higher fines will discourage short-term rentals in stratas that don’t want them while possibly freeing up more homes for people to live in.
Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association, says his members wanted the change because it gives stratas more clout in dealing with what has become a growing problem, especially in areas popular with tourists.
He said investors, speculators and corporations have been buying up hundreds of condos and renting them out, reducing rental stock, inflating condo prices and creating headaches for residents.
“Volunteers are being asked to manage properties that are being run as a hotel,” Gioventu said at a press conference Wednesday, adding that security can be compromised and property damage a problem when partiers don’t look after the suite they are in.
“It was a concern and [a fine of] $200 a week is hardly a deterrent,” Gioventu said, adding that it’s up to individual stratas to decide whether to allow or ban short-term rentals.
“This isn’t shutting down Airbnb, it is an enforcement issue,” he said.
Thew, who stood in a crowd with a dozen other residents, said she plans to take more action on the issue by taking it up with her strata council.
“It’s an eye opener,” Thew said of the short-term rental issue, “We have to keep watch.”