Strict new measures to regulate and tax short-term rentals under systems such as AirBnB, HomeAway and VRBO were announced by Vancouver Mayor Gregor this week, as the City looks for ways to ease the sub-1% rental vacancy rate.
The no-nonsense measures are designed to encourage the “home sharing” aspect of short-term rentals, but to ban investors from renting out investment units on a short-term basis, in order to free those units up for the long-term rental pool.
The new rules were expected, as the City had previously announced its intention to crack down on short-term rentals, particularly on investor-owned units, but the details had not been released until July 6.
"Housing is first and foremost for homes, not to be operated as a business," Mayor Robertson told reporters on Wednesday.
Under the new system, residents (home owners or renters) will only be able to rent out rooms in their principal residences on a short-term basis. To do so, they will be required to obtain a business license, which will cost $49 a year, and publish their business licence number on all advertisements. They will also have to pay as much as a 3% “transaction fee” tax on each stay, which will be taken by the rental operator (such as AirBnB) and passed on to the City.
Short-term rentals of secondary suites, laneway homes and investment properties will be banned. City staff said they would crack down on those found to be violating the new rules, and they will be subject to a $1,000 fine.
The new rules are set to be approved by Council next week and then enacted by April 2018.