‘Government overreach’: Short-term rental owners criticize proposed regulations

'Government overreach': Short-term rental owners criticize proposed regulations

A day after the province announced new sweeping measures, people who own condos and rent them as short-term rentals are grappling with an overnight loss in revenue.

“It’s a really interesting case of government overreach,” said David Langlois, realtor and short-term rental owner.

On Monday, the province dropped proposed legislation intended to protect long-term housing for British Columbians.

If passed, the new regulations would restrict people renting short-term rentals through platforms like Airbnb and VRBO to an individual’s primary residence plus one on-property secondary suite.

The legislation effectively eliminates investors like Langlois, who has owned a condo he’s operated as a short-term rental for the last 15 years.

“Short-term income to long-term income is about 30-40 per cent,” said Langlois, referring to the net loss he’d take if he converted his property to a long-term rental.

That source of revenue evaporated overnight, and he says the Greater Victoria Short-Term Rental Alliance (GVSTRA) will be looking for compensation.

“The stripping of legal nonconforming rights from owners who have short-term rentals currently is an egregious act, and it does require compensation because it is an economic expropriation, and yes, there are several groups that are organizing themselves to be challenging the government, and that compensation would be significant,” said Langlois.

What’s considered “short-term” has also been redefined.

Prior to Monday, in Victoria and Vancouver, short-term was defined as anyone renting for under 30 days.

“As of yesterday, it’s 90 days,” said Langlois.

Langlois says that change will have unintended consequences on British Columbians.

“The impact will be families travelling, people coming for chemo treatments, doctors looking for locums for two-three months will have nowhere to go other than hotels,” said Langlois. “Film and television production, they’re not going to shoot here if there’s nowhere to put their principal actors or production staff.”

There’s also the job losses. A Victoria short-term rental management company tells CHEK News it employs 30 people, estimating the total job losses in the capital city to be in the hundreds.

Realtor Sophia Briggs says that while the changes may mean more short-term investors will flip to renting their places out long-term, the type of accommodation that frees up is typically one-bedroom or studio suites and doesn’t match Victoria’s current housing needs.

“A lot of our condos downtown are 400 square feet. That isn’t going to a couple of people. But 2-3 bedroom garden suites that could be for a family or students, that could be more useful in the market,” said Briggs.

“Townhouses would be ideal right now. So people who are having kids are being pushed further and further out of town, unfortunately.”

The province is expected to drop another batch of housing legislation that may address this housing supply versus need mismatch in the next couple of weeks.

READ ALSO: B.C. to bring in new rules on short-term rentals to create more housing

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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