Regulating Short-Term Rentals – The Vancouver Experience

March 2020

Vancouver commenced enforcement of short-term rentals in September 2019.  By November 2019 over 2,000 short-term rental units were removed from this market.

City of Vancouver maintains a Prohibited Buildings List denoting buildings where short-term rentals are not allowed.  The City will not issue a business license to units in those buildings.  Strata (comparable to condominium) corporation boards or managers can submit a request to be added to this list along with proof and documentation of an appropriate by-law.

Stratas can fine an owner $200 for violation of the by-law which may be inadequate considering the profitability of short-term rentals.  Once on the Prohibited Buildings List financial penalties are more significant.

In British Columbia, buildings built prior to 2010 can limit the number of rental units allowed.  Airbnb is not considered a rental since it is typically for less than 30 days.  This loophole allows a condo owner to operate an Airbnb if a by-law has not been enacted stating Airbnb and other such operations are not permitted.

The City of Vancouver intends to strengthen regulations in 2020.

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