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Local governments urging regulations on short-term rentals

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The Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) has voiced its concern regarding short-term rentals and their impacts on local housing supply in communities across the province.

UBCM officials said it has made 13 requests to the provincial government to consider establishing a regulatory framework for the short-term accommodation industry similar to those for the ride-hailing industries.

“The short-term rental accommodation industry has grown exponentially over the last decade and it’s largely unregulated. One of the consequences of that growth is that it has limited the supply of long-term rental homes,” said Jack Crompton, Mayor of Whistler and co-chair of the Joint UBCM – Province Advisory Group on Short-Term Rentals. “The lack of regulation means that it’s a pretty lucrative choice and one that drives us away from housing residents in communities, which is really important in British Columbia at this time.”

Currently, individual municipalities can regulate short-term rentals, but accurate and complete data needed to understand exactly what is happening with short-term rentals in the community are not readily available to local governments.

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“Our hope is that this regulation will tamper the enthusiasm to convert long-term rental homes into short-term rentals,” said Crompton. “The goal is not to drive short-term rentals out of the province, but it is to come up with a rational solution so that a community’s needs can be addressed and promoted.”

Specific regulations the UBCM is asking from the provincial government include the following:

  • Province-wide regulatory framework for platform accountability and information validation for online accommodation platforms and short-term rental hosts.
  • Requirements for all online accommodation platforms to make data available through a provincial interface, which will be made available to local governments.
  • Requirements for all online accommodation platforms to publish business licence or permit information with local governments directly on the platform to prevent false information in listings.
  • Tax collection for PST and Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) at the point of booking.
  • Possible changes to the MRDT to make it consistent across the province and expand the use of tax revenue to offset impacts to housing and neighbourhoods.

“These requests for action would significantly reduce the regulatory burden for local governments while continuing to offer flexibility to balance regulation with the benefits of having short-term rentals available,” said Crompton. “The report also acknowledges that there is a need for improved data on short term rentals in B.C. communities to support effective regulation and the need for a provincial interface that is available to local governments.”

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