Tag Archives: Vancouver

Condos that have passed by-laws against short term rentals… What can you do if you want to rent your condo out on a short term basis?

Background

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 licenseBefore 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?

  1. The strata council can rescind or revise the bylaw.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

 

What I’m doing in Retirement

Ok so it took me all morning to write this.  So that is one of the things I am doing in retirement but I am trying to stay away from the computer as much as possible.  The weather has been so cold and rainy this spring in Vancouver I regret not going to Costa Rica where my brother has been spending the winter. I kept thinking it would warm up soon and it did not. I had a two week March break from my teaching gig and so I tried to make the most of it with some local mini adventures. For me an adventure often involves meeting new people. So, I have met quite a few interesting new people over the past week. The first group of people I met were at the Meet-Up Group for Women 55+. There are four of these groups in Vancouver who meet at different locations. I was delighted to meet a retired Richmond school French teacher who was originally from Quebec City so we had several points on intersection as I learned French as a child, am now teaching English as a second language and I also lived in Montreal. Another woman I met was a retired surgeon. When there was a pause in the conversation, I threw out the question “ are all very well established women in Vancouver who have lived and worked here for many years.. why are we all now having to seek out friends through a Meetup Group?” Well that launched a lively conversation. Some of the comments were around the lack of time to socialize when working. IMG_4144

The second francophone I met this week was at one of the French language Meetups and she was from Oromocto New Brunswick. Since I grew up in Saint John we had a lot in common and we had both worked in Ottawa. I talked to here about my conflict between wanting to work at my teaching gig and go south to Costa Rica or Mexico. She remined me that I have a sense of adventure that I have not been tapping into that staffing of the teaching job is not my responsibility! I felt so inspired after talking to her. I also had long interesting chats in the French language Meetup with a young man from Spain who kept try to switch me to speaking Spanish and an older man who told me about his experience work in one of the “stans” in Central Asia. I began to wonder if my tribe is the Francophone tribe in Vancouver.

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The third Meetup I did was the Sketching Group who met at the Vancouver Art Gallery. I once again encountered another charming person, this time a young lady from Vancouver who is living in Halifax. She was in town to complete her book of sketches of Vancouver which is a follow up to her book of sketches of Halifax. We chatted at length on the culture of Vancouver vs Halifax. Then we set to work to do some sketching around the Gallery.

Then yesterday I went to a move at the Vancouver International Film Festival Theater which I think is the new “go to” place for seniors in Vancouver. The gentleman who plonked himself down beside me was very well informed about the arts and fashion community as I discovered at the end of the movie about a Belgian fashion designer Dires. I also went to another movie at the Film Festival this week called “C’est La vie” which is the funniest movie I have seen ages.

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The only downside to the week was a yoga class I went to that was Level 2. I hadn’t read the fine print in the class description. $ 14 for the class and $ 5.00 for parking made this an expensive mistake. I managed a few walks but am still wearing my down parka and toque and I see many others dressed the same way. So I will add a few photos of my walks around Vancouver. The cherry trees are starting to blossom, but my cherry tree pics are from last year.

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