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British Columbia Updates Short-Term Rental Regulations, Effective May 1

The Province of British Columbia (Canada) has introduced updates to regulate short-term rentals and return more units to the long-term housing market. While the Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act and its regulations mostly target residential properties, campground and RV park owners should be aware of certain aspects of the legislation that may impact their operations.

Ahead of new regulations taking effect on May 1, the Province has issued additional guidance for hosts, platforms, and visitors concerning short-term rentals. 

These regulations, posted on B.C.’s website, center on the Principal Residence Requirement which mandates that short-term rentals can only be offered in the host’s primary residence, along with one additional unit, secondary suite, or laneway home/garden suite (accessory dwelling unit) on the same property in areas with populations exceeding 10,000 people.

This Principal Residence Requirement sets a minimum standard province-wide but allows local governments the autonomy to implement stricter bylaws. It will impact over 60 communities throughout British Columbia, reflecting a significant change in the management and availability of short-term rental properties.

However, some smaller communities and tourist destinations in B.C. are exempt from the Province’s principal residence requirement. Types of land that are exempt from the principal residence requirement include:

  • Municipalities with populations under 10,000 and not within 15 kilometers of a larger municipality
  • Mountain resorts, including regional/destination resorts, BC Parks resorts, private ski resort areas, and community ski resorts
  • Resort Municipality Initiative communities
  • Regional district electoral areas, except the University of British Columbia and the University Endowment Land
  • Trust area under the Islands Trust Act
  • Farm land (BC Assessment farm class Class 9)

In addition to these exemptions, certain strata-titled hotels or motels operating in a similar manner to a hotel or motel prior to December 8, 2023, and meeting new criteria, will not be subject to the Principal Residence Requirement. This measure recognizes the unique nature of these accommodations while aligning with broader housing policies.

Other exempt accommodation service providers include lodges or overnight accommodation provided by an operator of outdoor recreational activities (e.g. hunting, fishing, water sports etc.), timeshare properties, home exchanges, fractional ownership properties, certain student or employee accommodations, and strata corporation guest suites.

Importantly, the Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act does not apply to vehicles such as RVs or temporary shelters like tents. For the most part, campgrounds and RV parks can continue to offer short-term accommodations without being subject to the Principal Residence Requirement. However, any B&Bs located within these properties would need to comply with the requirement.

In a departure from previous policy, the non-conforming use of property will no longer be applicable to short-term rentals. Previously, properties that did not conform to new zoning or bylaws could continue operations under grandfathered rights. This change signifies a stricter approach to housing regulation, aiming to ensure more consistent use of residential property within communities.

Short-term rental hosts are now required to display a valid business license number on their listings if mandated by the local government. This step aims to enhance transparency and accountability in the rental process. While these regulations are primarily aimed at private short-term rentals, it’s essential for campground and RV park owners to ensure their listings on platforms like Airbnb or VRBO comply with all local regulations to avoid any disruptions.

Additionally, rental platforms must share user data with the Province. This cooperation is intended to facilitate better monitoring and enforcement of the new regulations. Local governments have the authority to request the removal of listings from platforms if they fail to display a valid business license number where required.

Further emphasizing compliance, 17 communities initially exempt from the regulations have chosen to adopt the Principal Residence Requirement, effective November 1, 2024. This inclusion, which counts Tofino and Osoyoos among the participating communities, marks a broader acceptance of the new rules across varied locales.

Local governments can annually request to opt in or opt out of the Principal Residence Requirement, depending on their rental vacancy rates and local needs. Owners and operators should stay informed about any changes in their local government’s participation in the program.

To enforce these regulations, the Provincial Short-Term Rental Compliance Enforcement Unit will begin operations on May 1. The unit will investigate violations and enforce compliance through administrative monetary penalties and orders. Fines for hosts will range from CA$500 to CA$5,000 per day per infraction, with penalties up to CA$10,000 per day for corporations.

Visitors and guests will not face fines. However, they are encouraged to verify that their accommodations are compliant with local and provincial regulations, especially for stays booked after the new rules take effect.

Detailed compliance guidelines for hosts and platforms are outlined in Backgrounder 1, available on the provincial government’s website. This document provides essential information to ensure all parties are well-informed and able to adhere to the new legal framework.

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BubblyJoy884
BubblyJoy884
April 24, 2024 5:01 pm

Isn’t it interesting how British Columbia is rolling out these new regulations and an online registry for short-term rentals? It’s like they’re really upping the game on transparency and accountability. So, if you’re planning a short-term stay, don’t forget to check that registry to stay compliant!

Ryan Powell
Ryan Powell
April 25, 2024 5:25 am
Reply to  BubblyJoy884

It’s quite intriguing how British Columbia is introducing these fresh regulations and setting up an online registry for short-term rentals. It’ll be exciting to see how this impacts the rental market in the province! Can’t wait to see the positive changes this brings!

DerekSun
DerekSun
April 25, 2024 6:33 am

Isn’t it crazy? British Columbia’s now making short-term rental operators get approval from strata councils before listing! And now, hosts need liability insurance to protect everyone. Talk about a game-changer!

urbanHiker
urbanHiker
April 25, 2024 8:56 am

Isn’t it interesting how British Columbia’s new short-term rental rules focus on the Principal Residence Requirement? They’re also limiting how often a secondary residence can be rented to help locals find housing. It’s crucial for hosts to understand these updates to avoid any penalties.

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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: British Columbia Updates Short-Term Rental Regulations, Effective May 1! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/canada/british-columbia/british-columbia-updates-short-term-rental-regulations-effective-may-1/