British Columbia tightens rules on short-term rentals to boost housing supply

The new legislation tackles a chronic issue in the province's housing market

British Columbia tightens rules on short-term rentals to boost housing supply

New legislation in British Columbia is bringing changes to rules on short-term rentals as a way to increase the number of long-term rental housing units in the province.

The Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act involves the implementation of new rules in order to strengthen the enforcement of short-term rental bylaws, return short-term rental units to the long-term rental market, and establish a new role in regulation short-term rentals in the province.

"We are taking an all-hands-on-deck, all-of-the-above approach to housing. This is one more step in our larger housing strategy to ensure BC is a great place to visit for tourists, but also to live for the people who make this province go,” said Premier David Eby.

Changes in the short-term rental market

Short-term rentals are now limited to a host’s own home, a basement suite, and laneway home on their property. Fines will be increased for those who will break the municipal bylaws, reaching $3,000 for each infraction per day.

Short-term rental platforms will also be required to share their data such as business licences and registration numbers of listings to the province for the purposes of enforcement and tax. Hosts will need to join a provincial registry and the government will have a compliance and enforcement unit to ensure that the rules were strictly being followed.

The changes will be implemented in phases with the principal residence rule set to begin by May. The data sharing from short-term rental platforms will be expected to begin by next summer.

Most of the rules in the legislation will only apply to communities that have a population of 10,000 or more, with the province naming 58 communities which will need to follow the new set of regulations.

Ravi Kahlon, the housing minister, said that as vacancy rates all across the province were extremely low, short-term rentals continued to remove thousands of homes from the market from those who were looking for affordable housing. Eby said that the new legislation will be able to return homes back to the market.

The premier also stated that the government was taking action to reduce profit-driven mini-hotel operators as his office, along with Kahlon’s, noted that short-term rental listings on online platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, Expedia, and FlipKey were at an all-time high.

“Without question short-term rentals have gotten out of control. This is one more step to address the housing crisis,” said Eby.

However, Alex Howell, a policy manager with Airbnb Canada, argued that the legislation would not ease the concerns surrounding housing supply in the province.

"Instead, it will take money out of the pockets of British Columbians, make travel more unaffordable for millions of residents who travel within BC, and reduce tourism spending in communities where hosts are often the only providers of local accommodations," he said in a statement.

Howell urged the province to listen to those who will be impacted by the legislation as the housing crisis was concerned with building more homes rather than restricting short-term rentals.