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B.C. mayors renew call on province to regulate short-term rentals

Apps like Air BnB and VRBO have brought benefits and headaches to B.C. municipalities
UBCM wants the province to bring in a regulatory framework for short-term rentals similar to regulations placed on ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. (File photo)

The Union of B.C. Municipalities is calling on the provincial government to regulate short-term rental accommodations with a framework similar to the one used for ride-hailing.

UBCM has released a report with 13 requests to implement a provincial regulatory framework for the short-term rental industry. B.C. municipalities do have some tools to regulate short-term rentals, but they often lack the resources to enforce those regulations.

A joint advisory group between UBCM and the province was convened to look at the issue in 2020. The group found that short-term rentals often negatively impact housing availability and affordability, though they said more data was needed to determine how much short-term rentals were impacting the housing market.

Short-term rentals have also generated many complaints related to noise, parking, garbage and safety from neighbours.

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But short-term rentals aren’t all bad. They do offer benefits for interim worker housing, giving temporary employees a place to stay and freeing up rental units for longer-term tenants. The biggest benefits come in the way of increased tourist accommodation capacity, family travel and bookings for sports and group travellers. Short-term rentals give these groups flexibility to stay in areas where accommodation may not have been available before and make travel more affordable.

In order to maximize benefits and limit the drawbacks of short-term rentals, UBCM has issued five requests for action from the province.

They want to see the province create a regulatory framework similar to ride-hailing services; require all booking platforms like Air BnB and VRBO to make data available through a provincial interface so local governments can see property listings, hosts, bookings and complaints in their community; require apps to publish business license and permit information to prevent fraud; introduce legislation to collect PST and the municipal regional district tax during bookings; investigate changes to the MRDT to expand the use of that tax revenue to offset impacts to housing and neighbourhoods.

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“These requests for action would significantly reduce the regulatory burden for local governments, while continuing to offer flexibility to balance regulation with the benefits of having short-term rentals available,” says Jack Crompton, Whistler mayor and co-chair of the Joint UBCM – Province advisory group on short-term rentals.

“The report also acknowledges that there is a need for improved data on short term rentals in BC communities to support effective regulation and the need for a provincial interface that is available to local governments.”


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