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As short-term rental rules loom, B.C. communities opting in and out

B.C. Premier, Housing Minister issue reminder about new rules designed to create more rental housing
Premier David Eby and Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon speak in Langley on Thursday, April 18, 2024, to discuss incoming short-term rental rules. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Four communities including West Kelowna in the tourism-dependent Okanagan have opted out of new provincial restrictions on short-term rentals effective next month.

Meanwhile, 17 communities across B.C. that could have been exempt have decided to opt in.

New rules restricting short-term vacation rentals to primary residences plus one additional unit on the same property will come into effect May 1 in more than 60 communities across B.C., home to much of the provincial population.

Premier David Eby and Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon held an event in the Fraser Valley community of Langley Thursday (April 18) to remind the public about the new legislation.

Eby said the legislation — announced last fall — cracks down on speculators who have turned thousands of rental homes into mini-hotels in the middle of a housing crisis.

“As we’ve already seen, these new rules are turning short-term rentals back into homes for people who live and work in our communities,” he said.

At the same time, homeowners can still rent out their principal residences plus one additional unit on the same property (for example, secondary or garden suites).

Eby called the legislation “balanced.”

The new rules define a “principal residence” as a “place in which an individual lives for a longer period in a calendar year than any other place.”

RELATED: Province to limit short-term rentals in some B.C. communities, but not all

The rules apply both to communities with populations above 10,000 and communities below 10,000 less than 15 kilometres away from those communities. B.C.’s 14 resort and mountain resort communities are exempt, as are regional districts and unincorporated electoral areas including Gulf Islands.

But exempt municipalities can opt in, while communities above 10,000 can opt out if their vacancy rates as measured by CHMC exceed three per cent for two or more years.

According to the provincial government, 17 communities include the resort community of Tofino, the tourism-dependent community of Osoyoos and three electoral areas near Penticton have opted in. The principal residency requirement will start to apply in those communities Nov. 1.

Three other communities — Fort St. John, Dawson Creek and Pouce Coupe near Dawson Creek — have joined West Kelowna in opting out.

This means the short-term rental legislation will apply in the City of Kelowna, but not the municipality (West Kelowna) located immediately across the Lake Okanagan bridge.

Last month, the province also announced last-minute changes that exempt eligible strata hotels and motels from the principal residency requirement following a push from tourism-dependent communities.

May 1 also signals the phased-in start of a new enforcement unit capable of handing out administrative penalties ranging from $500 to $5,000 a day per infraction to ordinary hosts and up to $10,000 per day for corporations.

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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