News / Vancouver

Richmond settles on new Airbnb bylaw

If approved, new bylaw will require any single-family homes used for short-term rentals register as a licensed bed and breakfast with the City of Richmond.

A woman is silhouetted while running through Garry Point Park at sunset in Richmond, B.C., on Monday, February 27, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A woman is silhouetted while running through Garry Point Park at sunset in Richmond, B.C., on Monday, February 27, 2017.

Richmond’s mayor believes a new bylaw regulating Airbnb-type rentals will effectively address community concerns about short-term rentals.

Council settled on a proposed framework this week, which will prohibit entire dwellings from being rented out for 30 days or less.

Single-family homes can still be rented out short-term but only if the owner is licensed as a bed and breakfast operator with the city (subject to fees and inspections) and also lives full-time on the property.

The regulations come at a time when Richmond’s rental vacancy rate was just one per cent in 2016 and as the entire region struggles with housing affordability.

But Brodie said the city is more concerned about the effect short-term rentals have on residential communities.

“I think Vancouver is concerned about [short-term rentals] mostly because of the shortage of rental accommodations,” Brodie told Metro. “That is a factor for us as well, but I would say a bigger issue is the sheer impact on the neighbourhood. You’ve got people coming and going at all times of the day and night; basically a business operating in a neighbourhood with parking impacts and strangers. That kind of thing has gotten people quite upset.”

Under the bylaw, homes with secondary suites or laneway/coach houses cannot be rented out short-term.

Bed and breakfasts in the same area must be separated by at least 500 metres to prevent the commercialization of neighbourhoods.

Property owners operating short-term rentals must also notify their neighbours and provide them with direct contact information.

Bylaw officers will be able to fine violators $1,000 a day per offence.

“I think that it’s going to go a long way towards effectively addressing the issue,” the mayor said. “At the very least, it will give the bylaw people a means of enforcement. Before, it was very difficult for them to take steps other than speak to the owners and get their co-operation.”

The bylaw will go to public hearing next month and Brodie hopes the bylaw can go into effect by the end of the month.

The City of Vancouver has long been grappling with how to regulate short-term rentals itself and its regulatory scheme is still undergoing consultations.

Last fall, the city proposed to relax its own bylaw prohibiting rentals of under 30 days, and instead plans to introduce a new permitting and business licence process that will allow Vancouverites to legally rent out homes and rooms via short-term rental sites like Airbnb.

To obtain a business licence, renters or homeowners must prove the home or rooms they want to rent out is their principal residence, and must display their permit when listing the room or unit.

The proposal was met with fierce debate, both for and against, in council.

Other British Columbia communities like Nelson and Tofino have also taken steps to regulate short-term rentals.

-with files from Jen St. Denis

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