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?