10 Island communities opt-in to B.C.’s looming short-term rental ban

The Janion is one of the buildings in Victoria that will be affected by the short-term rental changes.

Ten communities on Vancouver Island that were exempt from B.C.’s upcoming short-term rental rules have decided to opt-in to the program.

While the District of Tofino made waves for being the first exempt community across the province to opt-in to the program, nine others in the Vancouver Island area have announced they are joining in as well.

On Thursday, the B.C. government released a summary of its new rules regarding short-term rentals in the province, which kick in on May 1.

In communities over 10,000 people, short-term rentals must be located in a host’s principal residence, or on one additional unit on the property – such as a garden suite, laneway home or secondary suite – in what’s called the Principal Residence Requirement.

Meanwhile, short-term rental hosts will be required to display a valid business licence on their listing, and local governments can request platforms like AirBNB remove listings that don’t display valid licenses. These short-term rental platforms must also share data with the provincial government.

The new short-term rental changes are expected to affect more than 60 communities in the province, where roughly 19,000 homes are listed as short-term rentals for most of the calendar year, according to the B.C. government.

Fines and enforcement

Starting May 1, the province will also introduce a “ Provincial Short-Term Rental Compliance Enforcement Unit,” which will look into alleged non-compliance.

Individual hosts who are found to be breaking the rules can face fines of $500 to $5,000 per day, per infraction – while corporations can face fines up to $10,000 per day.

The province stresses that visitors and guests will not be on the hook for any fines, but guests should always check in with their host to make sure they’re complying with provincial and local regulations.

The B.C. government notes that while its rules are being rolled out province-wide, local governments can also add their own bylaws surrounding short-term rentals.

RELATED: Victoria short-term rental owner files petition against B.C., city

Island communities opt-in

While the new rules automatically apply to municipalities with more than 10,000 people, communities under this threshold can opt-in to the program.

On Thursday, the province said 17 communities had already decided to opt-in, 10 of which are located in the Vancouver Island region.

If smaller municipalities opt in to the program, then the rules apply for their community starting Nov. 1, 2024.

The 17 communities that have opted into the program can be found below, with Island communities bolded.

  • District of Kent
  • District of Tofino
  • Gabriola Island
  • Municipality of Bowen Island
  • Town of Osoyoos
  • Village of Pemberton
  • Electoral Area A (Mill Bay/Malahat)
  • Electoral Area C (Cobble Hill)
  • Electoral Area E (Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora)
  • Electoral Area F (Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls)
  • Electoral Area G (Saltair/Gulf Islands)
  • Electoral Area H (North Oyster/Diamond)
  • Electoral Area D (Skaha East/Okanagan Falls)
  • Electoral Area F (Okanagan Lake West/West Bench)
  • Electoral Area I (Skaha West/Kaleden/Apex)
  • Electoral Area B (Cortes Island)
  • Electoral Area C (Discovery Island – Mainland Inlets)

Meanwhile, communities that have a “healthy” vacancy rate of at least three per cent for at least two consecutive years can opt out of the new Principal Residence Requirement.

Four communities that meet this threshold have decided to opt out, including West Kelowna, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, and Pouce Coupe.

“The effect of short-term rental apps like Airbnb, VRBO and others has been the loss of thousands of long-term rental homes in the midst of a housing crisis, driving up the cost of housing for British Columbians,” said B.C. Premier David Eby in a release Thursday.

“That’s why our government has created balanced new rules to crack down on speculators who are effectively operating mini hotels, while also ensuring homeowners can still rent out spaces in their principal residence.”

More information on B.C.’s short-term rental requirements can be found on the provincial government website.


Adam Chan

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