AirBnB and Other Short-Term Rentals to Require Business Licence: City

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Mayor?s office announces next step in attempt to improve rental supply with stricter rules for short-term rentals, allowed only on primary residences

Joannah Connolly

Home owners renting out their units through AirBnB, VRBO or other short-term rental platforms will be required to get a business licence first – and will only be granted one if the property is their primary residence, according to a proposed City of Vancouver policy announced September 28.

The move is intended to encourage the kind of AirBnB use that is considered vital to the “sharing economy” – such as renting out your home while you’re on vacation, or staying elsewhere – without allowing short-term stays to dominate the rental market and price out local long-term renters.

Investment properties and secondary residences in the city, which are subject to the new empty homes tax that aims to encourage those properties to be put into the long-term rental market, will not be granted a short-term rental licence.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said that the proposed short-term rental licence could force up to 1,000 Vancouver homes back into the long-term rental pool.

“Housing is first and foremost for homes, not operating a business,” Robertson told media. “At a time like this, when affordable and rental housing are in a crisis, it’s incumbent upon the city to take bold steps.”

The City said that regular audits will be carried out by checking short-term rental advertisements against business licences, and that business licence numbers must be included on all advertisements.

If the unit proposed for short-term rental is in a strata building, the City said that the business licence application will have to include written confirmation from the strata council that the building’s bylaws do not prohibit short-term rentals.

To get the licence, applicants will also have to prove that they live at the address with government photo ID and a copy of recent government or utility correspondence.

Long-term renters will also be permitted to apply for the licence as long as their tenancy agreement explicitly permits short-term sublets – a copy of which must be included in their licence application.

The City added in its statement, “Short-term rental licensees may be subject to a hotel or other tax that will be re-invested to fund affordable housing initiatives in the city.”

© 2016 Real Estate Weekly

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