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Province cracks down on vacation rentals in condos

Regulatory change will help strata corporations enforce bans or restrictions on short-term rentals, and raises fines to $1,000 a day
Vancouver condos mountains

Owners who rent out their condos on platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO are about to face another hurdle, with the provincial government taking steps to ensure any rental condos are in the long-term pool.

Under changes to the Strata Property Regulation announced July 18, renting out a condo unit on a short-term basis will be more clearly defined as a “commercial use” rather than a regular long-term rental. Even if the building’s bylaws allow regular rentals, short-term rentals will be considered different and residents will be subject to severe fines if bylaws are broken. The current maximum fine of $200 a week for breaking short-term rental bylaws will be raised to up to $1,000 a day.

“The new regulations will help define short-term commercial use as a different function than rentals, and provides some very real consequences for the violators,” said Tony Gioventu, executive director, Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C., who was at the announcement and has been working with the B.C. government on the changes.

“For those strata corporations who prohibit short-term use, this is a valuable amendment. It will require strata corporations to amend their bylaws at a general meeting to permit the higher penalties, which in turn will provide the strata with a great opportunity to make sure the strata’s bylaw complies with provincial legislation.”

In its announcement, the province also pointed out that short-term rentals can have additional disadvantages other than taking units from the long-term rental pool. These problems including risks to building security as unvetted vacationers are given access to the building, noise issues with renters who do not live long-term in the building, renters not knowing or showing disrespect for the building’s rules and residents’ needs, incorrect garbage disposal, and so on.

Housing minister Selina Robinson said, “We’ve all heard the stories of renters losing their homes when units are pulled out of the rental market to be used as short-term rentals. With this change, we can ensure there is long-term rental stock for people and families who need them. As part of our 30-point plan to improve housing affordability in B.C., we are supporting strata corporations to both deal with the noise and security issues that can sometimes come with short-term rentals, and also preserve rentals for the long term.”

The B.C. government said the regulatory change will take effect on November 30, 2018, “in order to allow short-term rental hosts time to adjust bookings and comply with a strata’s short-term rental bylaws.”