B.C. cities want mandated business licences for short-term rentals

Enforcing local bylaws is ‘expensive and onerous’

Cities are asking the B.C. government to negotiate a province-wide requirement for all short-term rentals to display a valid business licence.

Nelson Coun. Anna Purcell brought the resolution to the floor of Wednesday’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

“Many of our communities have been impacted by short term rentals. Our rental housing stock has been impacted and neighbourhood livelihood has been impacted,” said Purcell.

“We created a short-term rental bylaw but enforcement of it is expensive and onerous.”

READ MORE: Airbnb should not accept dwellings without business licenses, Nelson says

Thursday’s resolution was inspired by Vancouver’s business licence requirement for short-term rentals that has cut the number of listings in half.

Tofino Mayor Josie spoke out about her community’s struggles in enforcing their short-term rental rules.

“It would be a lot simpler for other local governments that are moving forward in regulation short-term rentals to know that all of the online accommodation platforms need to provide the option to have the business licence listed clearly,” said Osborne.

“It’s a very valuable enforcement tool.”

At a workshop Thursday afternoon, Osborne spoke about Tofino’s success in regulating short-term rentals

Tofino requires all short-term rentals to have a business licence. It’s handed out about 230 of them.

The licence costs up to $750 a year, with the money funding a full-time inspector to ensure compliance.

“It takes proactive enforcement all of the time,” Osborne said.

About one-third of the 82 per cent of Tofino’s residential properties that allow short-term rentals currently have them.

In total, about 77 per cent of Tofino’s properties are residential

Earlier this year, the province said that Airbnb would now collect eight per cent PST and up-to-3 per cent in municipal and regional district taxes.

In July, the province had announced new authority for strata councils to stop owners from using AirBnB and other services to rent out their suites in violation of building bylaws.

Effective Nov. 30, strata councils can assess fines of up to $1,000 a day on owners, up from the current $200 a day.

The business licence requirement will not apply to regional districts and rural electoral areas that do not have business licence.


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