BC’s Housing Minister Plans New Legislation for Rising Short-Term Rentals

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The Housing Minister of British Columbia has confirmed the province’s incrementing efforts to deal with short-term rentals, anticipating new legislation for the fall. The renewed focus follows a recent McGill University study that reports an approximate 20 per cent increase in rent for British Columbia’s tenants due to the influences of the short-term rental market.

Ravi Kahlon, the minister in charge, expressed his concern and surprise over the data and hinted at impending regulations directed at companies such as Airbnb and VRBO. Not only the landlords but also rental companies need to shoulder responsibilities, according to Kahlon. He stressed the need for these firms to support local governments and adhere to their regulations.

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The possibility of new regulations has been brewing for a while, with Kahlon being directed in a mandate from Premier David Eby last December. The mandate was for Kahlon to create legislation offering new tools for local governments to better regulate the short-term rental markets within their communities.

Sonia Furstenau, leader of the BC Green Party, commented that such data validates public opinions and experiences with soaring rental prices throughout the province. She called the findings an ’emergency’ and urged the government to take swift action. Furstenau’s party proposed a provincial registry in spring, encouraging the issuing of business licenses for operators by regional districts and advocating for enhanced compliance and enforcement.

To date, oversight of short-term rental operators has been somewhat isolated, falling primarily on municipal shoulders. Only the city of Vancouver has established rules regarding operator registration and guest-stay duration. However, despite these efforts, it’s believed around 2,000 listings are still operating without a licence.

In an attempt to combat this, the city recently raised the annual licencing fee from $109 to $1,000, intending to use the increased revenue to hire additional enforcement officers and invest in more technologically advanced business analytics platforms.

Councillor Lenny Zhuo reiterated the need for the city to receive additional aid from the province, having already expressed his concerns to Minister Kahlon and Premier Eby. He emphasized that successful enforcement hugely depends on the city gaining further authorities via provincial legislation.