In the fall of 2017 the property management company for my condo passed a bylaw to ban rentals of less than one year. The property management company seemed to think there has been complaints about disruption of residents’ peace and quiet due to short term rentals. The ban includes rentals, home exchanges and rentals to home stay students. Most owners in the building are in their 40’s and I am one of the few seniors in the building. The controversy around housing in Vancouver and Airbnb has been ongoing for several years and the clamp down on Airbnb rentals is collateral damage.
Municipal policy and regulations
“City of Vancouver Short-Term Residential Rental Policy 2018 implemented new regulations concerning the operation of short-term rentals through services such as Airbnb and VRBO, with the objective of protecting Vancouver’s long-term rental supply, encouraging neighbourhood fit, enabling supplemental income for operators, supporting the tourism industry, ensuring health and safety, promoting tax and regulatory equity, and encouraging regulatory compliance”.
The city wants more short term rentals and has made an arrangement with Airbnb to monitor the licensing, supply and safety of accommodation. The City of Vancouver has specifically set up the licensing program to support short term rentals in Vancouver. This involves buying a business license for $100 which is required when creating a listing on Airbnb. You are not eligible to buy a business license if your strata council does not permit short term rentals. Thus the bylaw passed by the strata council is contrary to the direction in the City of Vancouver.
The city has a list of requirements for the business license. Before you apply for a license:
Strata properties Make sure your building’s strata bylaws allow for short-term rentals.
Building and fire safety Confirm your home is a legal dwelling unit. Provide 24-7 contact information. Post a fire plan at all entrances and exits. Have interconnected smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom. Have a working and accessible fire extinguisher on every floor. Have carbon monoxide detectors on every floor if there are gas appliances. Have a fire alarm in the building if it has more than three dwelling units or 10 occupants. By January 1, 2023, have an automated sprinkler system or fire separation between units with at least a 45 minute fire-resistance rating, unless a higher resistance rating is required for the building type by the Building Bylaw or Fire Bylaw, if your short-term rental accommodation is attached to another dwelling unit. Inspect, test annually, and keep related records for smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors. Review your insurance policies and cover any costs or damages that come from operating your short-term rental business.
How widespread is this problem of strata councils banning short term rentals? Where did it all start? What is the perceived vs actual risk.
- New South Wales has banned restrictions on strata councils restricting short term rentals and found no evidence of negative impact of short term rentals.
- In Queensland, it is written into the act that strata bylaws can’t be passed which restrict the lawful use of a property (so if council zoning allows something, then nothing strata can do about it).
Here is what I have done to try to get around the problem and resolve the issue.
I have submitted a letter to my strata council to exempt me from the regulations.
In accordance with the requirements of the Strata Property Act, please accept this letter as my application for an exemption from our rental restriction bylaw # 2.12 on the grounds of financial hardship and I believe I am exempt from the rental bylaws as I purchased my unit prior to Oct 31 2005. I also believe that a 5 week rental will have minimal impact on anyone and that a short term rental is keeping with the policy adopted by the City of Vancouver re: short term rentals. Furthermore the Strata Council Act grants a one year exemption to a bylaw that prohibits or limits rentals. As per the Strata Property Act, I am requesting a hearing with the strata council to discuss this matter should you feel the grounds for exemption are not adequate. I understand that an exemption granted by the strata corporation may be for a limited time and that the strata corporation may not unreasonably refuse to grant an exemption
So what processes are in place to fix this problem?
- The strata council can rescind or revise the bylaw.
- The strata council can grandfather in my suite so that the by-law will not apply to my suite as long as I am the owner
- I can apply for a waiver of the by-law based on financial hardship as suggested by the Civil Disputes Resolution. The Civil Disputes resolution site has a place where you can make a complaint about anything to do with the strata council and they said that a strata council cannot limit your rentals if you have a case for financial hardship.
- I can make a complaint to the City of Vancouver about the strata council limiting short term rentals as this is contrary to the policy of the City of Vancouver. See The VanConnect app.
- There is a one year exemption from the date of passing of Rental Bylaws according to the Strata Property Act.
Have you had any success keeping your condo open to short term rentals? What have you done?
Documenting and reporting is the first step to change.
Artwork by Marine Beckwith.
For anyone thinking about a new career teaching English as a second language with low barriers to entry and opportunities for travel, this article tells you how to do it.
While trying to illustrate the post I searched for images in creative commons. I found three photos of people with grey hair who appeared in a work type setting out of the millions of images available. A shortage of visual representation in the media? Just a bit.
Ok lets start by reading about it.
Here is a list of books recommended by another blogger Pat Doyle. You can click on the link to open the link in Amazon.com or other sites where I found the book.
Designing Your Life.by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans., 4 star. Based on the Design Thinking approach but geared more towards finding your right career. It can be reapplied to retirement life as it’s actually very similar to how I approached new life design in retirement, being a product designer myself! I also liked this book as did the Retirement Wisdom reviewers. When the book finally arrived after about a month I found I liked it the best of all the books I read. ♥♥♥♥♥
Don’t Retire, Rewire! by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners. ♥♥♥♥♥ A “how-to” on defining satisfaction drivers , separating skills and strengths (with examples), examples of others “accomplishments”, and a how-to guide for working through what in your work life was satisfied by your drivers and how to brainstorm possibilities. Introduces interesting concept of 4 types of work: work for a wage, work for a fee, work for free, work for me. I also liked this book. I liked the categories of what you get out of work and how you can replicate the same “hierarchy of needs” outside of the work environment. However I would add a Fun Factor to their list. Right, many people don’t have fun at work so there are some value adds to retirement that you don’t get out of work.
The Happiness Project (Revised Edition): Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun This is my personal favourite although it’s not about retirement specifically. The website has five 21 day projects that can take you over the hump while you are figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life.♥♥♥♥♥
The Joy of Retirement by David C. Borchard. 5 star – Lots of how-to for defining who you want to be in retirement and the lifestyle that will help you be that person. Big sections on roles, talents, and values in defining your vision statement. Love the fact he does not assume where you will be on the continuum of working versus traditional leisure-based retirement. Combines easy to use tools as well as insightful examples of practical next steps. Pat says she wishes she had read it sooner in her journey. Borchard also offers his assessments on-line for $ 35 US. I think the tests are included in the books so it would be cheaper to buy the book. I tired the tests and found they were targeted at career planning more than retirement planning. According to the tests my Passion Distribution is Right Brain Creator and Left Brain Organizer which explains why I am doing a blog. I didn’t find the book or the tests as helpful as some of the books below.♥♥♥♥♥
I ran out of interest in reading about retirement after 3 books so the remaining books are as reviewed by Pat.
How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free. by Ernie J Zelinski . 5 star – An easy-to-read conversational style. Introduces the possibilities “get a life tree”; real people case studies (as opposed to all professional, CEO types), focus on “leisure” (not work) so unique in that!♥♥♥♥♥
65 Things to Do When You Retire is in fact 65 interesting essays about retirement from all kinds of people, on all kinds of topics, many very inspiring. edited by Mark Evans Chimsky. ♥♥♥♥
What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement, Second Edition: Planning a Prosperous, Healthy, and Happy Future. Some stuff on finances, but lots on health and happiness. Great background on core values, theory and application of happiness (positive psychology), and practical how-to especially on self reflection and life portfolio. ♥♥♥♥
Now What? Know who you are , Get what you want. By Laura Berman Fortgang. Easy style, how-to-process! Focus is on second career or what did you always want to do so you will be happy, but process can be reapplied to new retirement life situation (or even divorce) Lots of exercises done as answering questions, but good, insightful questions versus generic “how do you feel about this?”♥♥♥♥
Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide by Caroline Adams Miller and Dr Michael Frisch – helpful in creating your “life list” beyond traditional bucket lists with “things to accomplish” or “ways to live” thinking.♥♥♥♥
Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement by Nancy Collamer. An in-depth look at part-time income stream possibilities with lots of resource connections (to get more information). Great for possibilities exploration. Second half on self-reflection not as good as other books, but there.♥♥♥♥
The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Creating an Amazing New Life Together by Roberta K. Taylor and Dorian Mintzer. 3 star but is unique in that it talks about transitioning as a duo in life. Covers all the big domains.♥♥♥
Here is another highly recommended book by Ken Blanchard and Morton Shaevitz Refire! Don’t Retire: Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life reviewed by the website Retirement Wisdom. Blanchard is a well known best selling author on many management topics. I have booked a download from the Vancouver Public Library e-books. The Retirement Wisdom website also has a list of recommended retirement books.