The British Columbia government has introduced new legislation aimed at increasing badly needed rental housing, in part by forcing those offering short-term accommodation to live on the property they’re renting.
The government says the legislation would rein in a rapidly expanding short-term rental market.
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon introduced the bill Monday in the legislature, saying there has been “an explosion” of short-term rental units and the legislation will target areas with high housing needs.
“Vacancy rates across the province are extremely low. People are struggling to find homes that they can afford and the rapid increase in short-term rentals is making the problem worse,” he said.
Short-term rentals remove thousands of homes from B.C.’s communities, Kahlon said.
The legislation would force short-term rental platforms to share their data with the province for enforcement and tax purposes, and would limit short-term rentals to within a host’s own home, or a basement suite or laneway home on their property.
Most of the rules will apply to communities that have a population of 10,000 or more, and a provincial host and platform registry will be established by late next year.
The government says short-term rental listings on online platforms, such as Airbnb, VRBO, Expedia and FlipKey, have expanded rapidly since the COVID-19 pandemic and are now at an all-time high.
Premier David Eby said the number of short-term rentals has ballooned in recent years and the government is taking action to reduce “profit-driven mini-hotel operators” by bringing in new enforcement tools.
“Anyone who’s looking for an affordable place to live knows how hard it is, and short-term rentals are making it even more challenging,” Eby said in a statement.
The bill was immediately passed in the legislature and moved to second reading on Tuesday.
David Wachsmuth, the Canada research chair in urban governance at McGill University, said in the statement that the new policy will set a new Canadian standard that the rest of the country should emulate.
“These are sensible, evidence-based rules that are going to prioritize the needs of B.C. residents and get available rental housing back on the long-term market where it belongs.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 16, 2023.