City officials in Vancouver are proposing a new legal framework that will limit the number of property owners who can offer short-term rentals, including vacation sublets through Airbnb.
The move comes after studying the impact that these popular rentals have on both affordability and availability of housing within the City. Vancouver’s residential vacancy rate is nearing zero.
According to data released from Vancouver, active short-term vacation rental listings climbed to 5,300 this year. The majority — 74% — of those listings were for entire units, while one-quarter were private rooms. Nearly 20% of hosts offered more than one property for overnight sublets, while 25 hosts listed 10 or more properties.
Under the proposal, about half of the short-term listings and most private rooms could remain, so long as owners or tenants obtain a licence. It is likely that those “businesses” then would be required to pay hotel or other taxes.
Licences may be available to those who use the property as a principal residence, including tenants if the tenancy agreement allows for short-term sublets. Residents also must show that any applicable strata by-laws do not prohibit rentals of less than 30 days.
It is important for landlords who do allow these sublets to develop a tenant screening policy for overnight and short-term guests. There have been a number of reports of vacation renters causing significant harm, including property damage and identity theft. In one instance in the U.S., a guest who remained for 30 days argued that he had become a month-to-month tenant and refused to vacate.
Under the Vancouver rules, properties that are not principal residences, like investment properties or those that remain empty would not qualify.
Lawmakers have sought input from Airbnb and other vacation listing sites, as well as hotels and businesses relying on tourism. Staff also studied regulations in 20 cities in North America, Australia and Europe, and surveyed nearly 6,500 Vancouver residents. Officials hope to finalize the framework in early 2017.
Vancouver recently adopted a tax on owners of properties that remain empty in its continuing efforts to make more properties available for long-term residency.
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