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Provincial legislation to support rental bylaws in smaller communities

New legislation proposed by the province will help support some smaller communities who have already made moves to curb increasing short-term rentals.

The legislation proposed today by B.C. premier David Eby and housing minister Ravi Kahlon hoping to deal with short-term rental unit issues. Kahlon says that listings have increased by about 20 per cent when compared to 2022 and there are about 16,000 homes taken away from the long-term market.

To do this, they will focus on increasing fines and tools for local governments, turning more short-terms rentals back into homes and creating new rules and an enforcement team. Fines, for example would increase from $1,000 to $3,000 per infraction, per day.

It will also include data sharing with the province that should lead to better enforcement.

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The Village of Cumberland made changes to its rental bylaws to help combat the rise of short-term rentals recently, including principal residency requirements, as their vacancy is very low.

The bylaw means that there must be a permanent resident/caretaker on each rental property. Each property can have up to three dwellings, but only one of them can be a short-term rental.

“That creates stability on the property and reduces some of the issues that come along with short-term rentals and also keeps the feel of a neighbourhood,” said Brown.

“What we were finding were complaints from neighbours that their streets were being hollowed out with homes that were entirely short-term rental. Much of the time no one is in the house and when they are, they are strangers.”

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Brown says it maintains the densification of three units and allows owners to make a bit of profit from tenants.

With primary residence a part of the bylaw, Brown says it simply supports the decision that they have already made. However, the increase in fines could benefit enforcement as Cumberland does not have the funds to have bylaw officers in the area.

“For them to track data and share that data with municipalities will definitely help us with enforcement but we still need to come up with the money to hire bylaw to actually do that enforcement,” said Brown.

“Increasing that fine rate, allowing us to charge more, will hopefully help fund the bylaw enforcement.”

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Elsewhere on Vancouver Island, Tofino mayor Dan Law says the actions will help shift many commercialized homes back into the long-term housing market.

“Expanding regulations, ensuring accurate data and data sharing, strengthening both local and provincial government enforcement tools – these much-needed actions will help diverse communities in every corner of the province better understand and control short-term rentals proliferation,” said Law

The province adds that at least 30 municipalities in B.C. have introduced bylaws and licence fees to manage the growing need for regulation of short-term rentals, municipal short-term rental bylaws or licence fees.

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