Strata Alert: City of Vancouver approves new short-term rental regulations – What you need to know

City of Vancouver approves new short-term rental regulations – What you need to know

Amanda M. Magee, Associate
Phone:  604-685-5438
Email:  amm@lmlaw.ca

 

The City of Vancouver has approved new regulations that will allow for short-term rentals under certain conditions.

A “short-term rental” is the rental of a residential dwelling unit (i.e. a home, or a room within a home) for a period of less than 30 days. Currently, the City’s bylaws do not allow for any short-term rentals, with some exceptions for hotels and licensed bed-and-breakfasts.

Under the newly approved regulations, which will come into effect in April 2018, the short-term rental of a dwelling unit will be allowed if:

  • the dwelling unit is the owner or tenant’s principal residence – although the definition of what constitutes a principal residence is not very clear;
  • it is a legal dwelling unit;
  • the owner or tenant has a short-term rental business license obtained from the City;
  • if tenanted, the landlord has given permission for the short-term rental;
  • if in a strata, the strata has authorized short-term rentals.

Short-term rentals will still be prohibited under the new regulations in cases where the dwelling unit is not the primary residence of the owner or tenant, or if the strata in which the unit is located has prohibited short-term rentals.

This development is important for strata corporations who are attempting to curb Airbnb and other short-term rental activity in their condominiums.

In the past, stratas may have relied on the standard bylaws from the Strata Property Act to target short-term rentals. The standard bylaws prohibit the use of a strata lot for any purpose that is “illegal” or contrary to zoning. Now that the City has legalized short-term rentals in some instances, the standard bylaws may no longer be sufficient. To effectively ban Airbnbs and other similar uses when these new regulations come into effect in April, strata corporations should ensure that they have bylaws in place that specifically prohibit short-term rentals.

Strata councils should take note that having a rental restriction bylaw that provides for a minimum rental period (for example 30 days or 1 year) may not be enforceable against some types of short-term rentals like Airbnbs. When an owner or tenant allows an Airbnb guest to stay in their strata lot they are licensing their strata lot for use by that guest for a period of time, they are not renting or sub-letting to the guest under a landlord/tenant relationship. As a result, a rental restriction may not be enforceable against that owner or tenant. Stratas should have bylaws in place that specifically prohibit short-term accommodation and hotel-like uses, and other licensing arrangements, to enable them to effectively ban Airbnbs.

If you are unsure whether your bylaws effectively ban Airbnbs and other types of short-term rentals, it is a good idea to have them reviewed by a lawyer who can then draft any necessary amendments.

 

WHAT WE DO: Lesperance Mendes has been advising strata corporation and strata lot owners on bylaw amendments and enforcement since 1997. To learn more about our strata property law practice, contact Amanda Magee, Associate, at 604-685-5438 or by email at amm@lmlaw.ca or Paul G. Mendes, partner, at 604-685-4894 or by email at pgm@lmlaw.ca.

 

THIS ARTICLE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE:  This article provides general information and should not be relied on without independent legal advice.