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Urbanized, Politics, News

City officially legalizes short-term rentals in Vancouver

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Eric Zimmer Apr 18, 2018 11:37 am 4,917

In what it says is part of its efforts to address the estimated 6,600 illegal short-term rentals in Vancouver, City Council has enacted a new bylaw that allows Vancouver residents to operate short-term rentals of less than 30 days.

Starting this Thursday April 19, owners and tenants who wish to operate their principal residence as a short-term rental can apply online for a business licence.

All applicants will be required to pay a prorated annual licence fee and a one-time administration fee of $56.

For 2018, the annual licence fee is $49, which will be prorated to the resident’s application date.

As part of the application process to receive the business licence, operators must agree to health, safety, and “good neighbour” requirements as well as a regular system of audits and inspections.

Under this new bylaw, the City estimates that at least 1,000 of the currently illegal short-term rental units in operation will not be eligible to receive a business licence and may be returned to long-term rental housing in the city.

Secondary suites can be operated as a short-term rental by an owner if it is their principal residence or by a tenant if they are a long-term renter in that suite and have their landlord’s permission.

“The City of Vancouver is taking a balanced approach to regulating short-term rentals that prioritizes housing as homes first and as a commodity second, while also recognizing that many residents depend on that extra income to help make ends meet,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

The new regulations, he said, “are one more tool that we’re using to tackle housing affordability and create more long-term rental options for people and their families who want to live, work and build a future in Vancouver.”

$1,000-a-day fines for non-compliance

Operators who do not include a valid business licence in the list short-term rental listings will be subject to enforcement. Failure to comply may result in fines of up to $1,000 per day and legal action.

This fine will also apply to commercial operations, which the city said don’t qualify for the short-term business license

In addition, operators who don’t follow the short-term rental bylaws will be required to remove their listing until they have applied for and received their business licence.

Operators who make false declarations in the business licence application or refuse an audit or inspection will have their licence suspended as well, and on’t be allowed to operate a short-term rental for 12 months.

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“With these new short-term rental bylaws, we will be proactive in our enforcement operators who are not in compliance will be fined repeatedly until they abide with the regulations,” said Kaye Krishna, General Manager of Development, Buildings and Licensing.

Krishna said the city’s “dedicated enforcement staff” will use a variety of tools and technologies to monitor and enforce compliance with the new bylaws.

Those who currently operate a short-term rental have until August 31 to obtain a business licence and post it in their online listings before they will be subject to enforcement by the City.

Leading up to this deadline, the city said it will focus on awareness and education about the new bylaws for the general public, while continuing enforcement against commercial operators, unsafe and illegal dwelling units.

Starting September 1, the City will expand enforcement to include all unlicensed or invalid residential operators.

Short-term rental operators can continue to apply for a business licence after August 31st.

More information about the program can be found online.

For more hands-on support in understanding the new rules and how to apply for a business licence, residents can attend one of the following public information sessions:

  • Tuesday, April 24, from 4:30-7:30pm at the Central Library, Alice McKay Room, located at 350 W Georgia St.
  • Saturday, May 12, from 10:30am-1:00pm at City Lab, located at 511 West Broadway.
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Eric Zimmer
Staff Writer at Daily Hive.

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