What P.E.I. can learn from Vancouver's new short-term rental rules

What P.E.I. can learn from Vancouver's new short-term rental rules

'It can't be an investment property or a second suite in a basement that has its own entrance'

CBC News · Posted: Aug 21, 2018 4:00 PM AT | Last Updated: August 22

Vancouver wants more people to be able to live and work in the city, so is looking to limit short-term property rentals. (Canadian Press)


Like Charlottetown, the vacancy rate in Vancouver is less than one percent — that's one of the reasons the B.C. city introduced regulations this summer for short-term rentals like Airbnb. 

The new rules, which came into effect mid-April, restrict short-term rentals to 30 days or less in people's principal residences and require a business licence from the city.  

"We have a severe shortage of housing here in Vancouver," Kathryn Holm, Vancouver's director of Licensing, Property Use and Animal Services told Island Morning's Matt Rainnie. 

"This was one of many strategies we're putting in place to try to ensure we have access to longer-term rental housing for our residents."

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'Permissive policy'

Vancouver has at least 6,600 short-term rentals listed on sites such as Airbnb. 

'Obviously enforcement is a challenge,' says the City of Vancouver's Kathyrn Holm. (Karen Burgess/CBC)

"We are really trying to put measures in place to ensure that those properties are used for long-term rental housing as opposed to short-term rental," Holm said. 

At the same time, the city wanted a "permissive policy," Holm said, that allows people to rent their homes for short periods.

The city also recognizes short-term rentals as an excellent way for Vancouverites to supplement their income in the expensive locale, she said. 

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'Can't be an investment property'

The city's new short-term rental business licences costs $56 as well as an annual $49 fee and requires a fire escape plan, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. Homeowners must also agree to be responsible neighbours and comply with noise, parking and garbage bylaws.

The rules require rentals be in a person's principal residence — even apartments or basement suites in the same building or house are not allowed. 

"It can't be an investment property or a second suite in a basement that has its own entrance, has its own address and is not used as somebody's home on a regular basis," Holm said. 

So far the city has given out 1,800 licences. Landlords have until the end of August to comply. The fine to list a short-term rental without a valid licence is $1,000 per day.

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'Enforcement is a challenge'

The city monitors listings online to make sure they comply, and many have either been removed or converted to longer-term rentals, Holm said.

"Obviously enforcement is a challenge," she said. "We've really been focused on those properties that are unsafe or are commercially-operated. We see operators with multiple properties, clearly not their principal residence — and those are the properties we've been going after." More than 89 of those listings have already been referred to the city's prosecutor's office for further legal action, Holm said. 

Reaction to the new rules has been mixed but Holm believes there is support overall. 

The public is being encouraged to report unlicensed short-term rentals, she said. 

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