City Proposes to Licence Short-Term Rentals

City staff are proposing a new business licence that will allow short-term rentals (less than 30 days) in principal residences, whether owned or rented. In a report coming to Council on October 4th that builds on a motion presented by Councillor Geoff Meggs in March, staff will outline the proposed framework and next steps to regulate short-term rentals, including a licensing approach and enforcement, in an effort to protect existing rental homes and ensure they’re available for long-term rental as the City’s vacancy rate hovers near zero.

“Vancouver is striking a balance in our approach to short-term rentals that ensures the best use of all our housing. Long term rental supply will be protected and residents will be able to do short-term rentals in their principal residences,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Housing is first and foremost for homes, not operating a business. Both the City’s research and broad public input tell us we can have short-term rentals in Vancouver to help supplement income, while ensuring long term rentals are back in the rental market.”

Under the proposed framework, principal resident owners and renters who wish to list part or all of their home on a short-term rental site will require a business license, and will have to post their license number in any advertisement for rental. 

To obtain a short-term rental business license, principal residents would need to prove:

  • Control of the home they propose for short-term rental, through a copy of title or tax assessment (owners), or signed tenancy agreement (renters) that permits short-term sublets.
  • The property’s strata by-laws must not prohibit short-term rentals.
  • Regular personal business at this address, through a valid government ID with photo and address and a utility bill or piece of government correspondence dated within the last three months.

Short-term rentals would remain illegal in homes that are not principal residences (e.g. empty and investment properties) or structures such as boats or trailers that are not considered dwellings.

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.

Staff are seeking Council’s approval in principle of the proposed regulatory framework and, once approved, will continue to consult with stakeholders (including Airbnb, other listing sites, and the hotel and tourism industry) on implementation and enforcement of the new regulations, including finalizing the type of tax licensees will be subject to and its rate. Staff will report back to Council in Q1 2017 with final recommendations.

For more information on the proposed short-term rental regulation, visit www.vancouver.ca/short-term-rentals

In the last five years, the City has enabled more than 12,000 affordable homes and provides nearly half the rental housing in the Lower Mainland. This year, the City also:

  • Is implementing a tax on empty homes;
  • Pursued modular housing on city owned land for temporary housing;
  • Offered 20 sites worth $250 million to senior governments to build affordable housing;
  • Increased family housing requirements from 20% to 35%;
  • Enabled Vancouver’s first Community Land Trust.

Key Facts on Proposed Short-Term Rental Framework from staff report:

Data on Short-Term Rentals:

  • There are currently 5,300 unique, active short-term rental listings:
    • 74% entire units
    • 24% private rooms
    • 2% other
  • 26% of all short-term rentals were rented nightly for more than 90 nights in 2015
  • 17% of operators have multiple listings
  • 25 operators have 10+ listings
  • There were 4,009 unique, active entire unit listings in Vancouver in June 2016. If rental activity in 2016 is similar to last year, City staff estimates that 1,082 of these will be rented more than 90 days this year; 1,564 will be rented more than 60 days.
  • Staff found more than 200 listings in suites and laneway homes

Impact of short-term rentals on housing stock:

  • The new regulations will allow approximately 50% of current entire unit short-term rental listings and almost all private room listings.

Developing the Framework:

  • In developing Vancouver’s proposed regulatory framework, staff reviewed regulations in 20 cities in North America, Australia and Europe, and surveyed nearly 6,500 Vancouver residents.