WATCH: In an attempt to address the city’s low vacancy rate, Victoria will crack down on short-term vacation rentals like Airbnb. April Lawrence reports.
The pool of around 1,500 short-term rentals in the city is about to shrink as city council approves a crackdown.
“Helps to make sure that housing units are being used as housing stock that neighbourhoods and buildings have a great sense of community and vibrancy and are safe,” said Coun. Jeremy Loveday.
The new city-wide rules would mean people can only rent out the house they live in, meaning no self-contained basement or garden suites on Airbnb.
“So they will be allowed to maybe rent out one or two rooms within their home, whether that’s a house or a condo, or they’ll be able to rent it out when they go away on vacation but it has to be their principal residence,” said Loveday.
So where does that leave property owners who are currently allowed to rent out vacant units as a business? They will be grandfathered in and can continue to operate.
But everyone will have to have a business license.
It will cost $200 a year for people who are just sharing a home and up to $2,500 if you’re a commercial operator.
Short-term rentals won’t be allowed in any new condo developments in the city and if someone currently rents on Airbnb but stops for six months or more, they will lose their special allowance and can no longer do it.
“People want that flexibility in how they can use their properties,” said Nancy Paine, owner of Spacehost, which manages 37 short-term rentals in the city.
Paine says many of her clients are families who use the money to pay mortgages and bills.
“They’re putting the onus of availability of rental stock onto private property owners and that’s really not our problem,” she said.
The regulations come at a cost of roughly $500,000 for things like third-party monitoring to ensure compliance and more bylaw staff, but some of that can be recovered through license fees.
If it all moves forward, the rules should come into effect early next year.