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City legalizes short-term rentals in Vancouver

April 19 2018 Residents can apply online for a business licence starting April 19th

"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."

bedroom in a condo

As part of the City's efforts to address the estimated 6,600 illegal short-term rentals in Vancouver, City Council enacted a new bylaw that permits Vancouver residents to operate short-term rentals in their principal residence for stays of less than 30 days.

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.

Aligning with the City's homes-first approach, commercial operations are not permitted to receive a short-term rental business licence and will be subject to stronger enforcement and daily fines of $1,000 effective April 19.

Applications

Starting 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 neighbor" requirements as well as a regular system of audits and inspections.

Learn more and apply

Enforcement

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.

To ensure compliance with the new bylaws, a new enforcement function will be responsible for proactively reviewing various sets of data as well as online posts for unlicenced or invalid listings.

Operators in contravention of 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, and will be ineligible to operate a short-term rental for 12 months. In addition, they may be fined $1,000 per day or face legal prosecution.

Property owners and tenants 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. Prior to this date, the City 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 31.

Anyone who suspects an illegal STR can call 3-1-1 or report it through the City's VanConnect app.

Information sessions

Residents are encouraged to visit the short-term-rentals page to watch a video and complete an eligibility quiz to determine if they qualify to operate a short-term rental. Additional questions can be directed through 311. 

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

 Additional public sessions may be scheduled at a later date.

Quote from the mayor

"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 Mayor Gregor Robertson. "These new regulations 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."

Quote from the general manager of Development, Buildings, and Licensing

"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. "Our dedicated enforcement staff will use a variety of tools and technologies to adaptively monitor and enforce compliance with operators who are in contravention of the bylaws."

Facts about the new bylaws

  • Starting April 19, short-term rentals, which are stays of less than 30 days, are legal in Vancouver.
  • Short-term rentals are only allowed in a principal residence, where the operator resides for more than 180 days of the year and receives mail.
  • A short-term rental must be licensed before it can be advertised or rented.
  • Residents can apply for a short-term rental business licence online starting April 19.
  • Licences fees for 2018 are $49, and will be are pro-rated to the application date (for example, as of April 19 it will be about $37). There is a one-time administration fee of $56.
  • Existing short-term rental operators who would otherwise qualify to operate a short-term rental have until August 31 to obtain a short-term rental licence and enter it in their listing.
  • Commercial operations are not permitted and will be subject to new fines and enforcement actions effective April 19.
  • As of September 1, 2018, anyone listing a short-term rental without a posted business licence will be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 per day and potentially other enforcement or legal action.
  • Only one active short-term rental booking at a time is permitted per license, even when there are multiple dwelling units on the property.
  • Landlord permission is required, if applicable, to operate a short-term rental.
  • Short-term rentals are only allowed in strata buildings if the building bylaws permit it.
  • Short-term rental of a secondary suite or laneway house will be allowed, provided it is where the operator principally lives.
  • Residents who pay the Empty Homes Tax cannot operate a short-term rental at that property.