Short Term Rentals (aka: airbnb)

Rationale for Regulating Short Term Rentals:

In regulating Short Term Rentals, the District endevours to find an appropriate balance between responding to the needs to owners and tourists, and keeping the scale of businesses appropriate to residential neighbourhoods. 

What may be regulated?

Municipalities can establish different rules and regulations for Short Term Rentals in order to achieve the desired “balance” for the community.  These may include:

  • Zoning Bylaw restrictions – such as restricting where STRs can go and restricting what types of dwellings can have STRs (e.g. single-detached dwellings only).
  • Licensing or registering owners/operators
  • Limiting rentals to principal residences
  • Limiting the maximum number of consecutive days allowed
  • Limiting the maximum number of days per year
  • Limiting the number of guests
  • Prohibiting “problem” buildings (e.g. non-conforming, non-complaint, high number of property and/or noise complaints) from obtaining permission to operate.

Housing Affordability & Availability

There is not a direct correlation between homes used for short term rentals and loss of rental units. Not all homeowners want to have a long-term tenant or be subject to the Landlord Tenant Act. 

To address concerns about the impact on rental and affordable housing, some municipalities have placed limitations on the zones and types of units that can accommodate short term rentals to avoid losing long-term rental stock.  For example, the City of Vancouver allows homeowners to rent out all or some of their principal home for STR, but prohibits short-term rentals of secondary suites and laneway housing. Most restrict STR to single-detached so that impact on rental apartments is minimized. 

Existing Regulations and Enforcement Provisions

The District of Sechelt regulates Short Terms Rentals primarily through the zoning bylaw and the Business License Bylaw

Short term rental is defined in the Zoning Bylaws as “Short term residential rental means the rental of a dwelling unit on a daily, weekly or short term basis for less than four (4) consecutive weeks.” The same definition is used in the Business License bylaw.

Short term rental (STR) is a Permitted Use in the following zones: R1, R2, and R3.  The use is limited to single-detached dwellings.  There is no provision for STR in any multi-unit housing zone or in any CD zone. The parking requirement for a STR is “the greater of 1 per sleeping unit or 2”. This parking requirement is in addition to the off-street parking requirement applied to the detached dwelling.

The District of Sechelt Business License Bylaw No. 520, 2012 Schedule B includes regulations pertaining to short term rentals which include:

  • An operator of a STR must supply the District of Sechelt with a contact number of a person residing in the District (local contact) who must be available to receive and respond to complaints.  This contact information is to be shared with all property owners within 100 m of the STR property. The local contact is also responsible for meeting the STR guests and for checking the property at the commencement of the stay.  The bylaw limits the number of properties the local contact can manager to two (2) if they are not the registered owner of the properties
  • A deposit of $1,000 is required as security against costs incurred by the District as a result of hearings, appeals or other enforcement actions
  • Parking must be provided on the property for the STR
  • The size of the vehicle transporting guests to the STR must not exceed 16 passenger capacity
  • There are limits on the size of the sign and the information that can be displayed for the STR
  • The holder of the business license must maintain a written record of the names of all STR guests.

Provisions of the Business bylaw that apply to all license holders include:

  • The requirement that all people conducting business in the District of Sechelt obtain a business license and pay the required fee.
  • The ability to impose terms and conditions including a requirement for the payment of security; the ability to restrict hours of operation; the ability to set conditions with respect to the impact of the business on neighbouring properties.
  • The ability to enter and inspect a business
  • The ability to refuse to grant, issue, transfer or renew a business license for reasonable cause.

Several requirements and standards must be met to be eligible for a business license.  Section 6.6 of the Business License Bylaw outlines the ability of the District’s License Inspector to deny the issuance of a license where an operator refuses to meet regulations and bylaws of the municipality or those imposed by the applicable Provincial or Federal agencies. In instances where an applicant has been refused a business license, they may apply to Council for reconsideration of the administrative decision.

A number of municipalities are adopting the following principles to manage the impacts associated with short-term rentals:

  • One host-one rental:  Short term rentals are limited to one listing per dwelling unit and the units are restricted to principal dwellings. 
  • Prohibit full-time, entire house rentals:  Short term rentals are limited to a number of days per year, usually between 60 and 90 days in a calendar year.
  • Hold STR listing platforms responsible for enforcement:  Some larger municipalities have negotiated arrangements with list platforms to enforce regulations, rather than put the onus entirely on the municipality.  For example, if there is a 60 day restriction on a listing, it disappears from the listing platform on day 61.

The District of Sechelt has a number of regulations and licensing requirements in place to manage short term rentals.  However, it does not restrict the rentals to principal residents or impose a minimum residency for the owner of the property to be used for short term rentals. This facilitates the use of investment properties to be used for short term rentals. 

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Have Your Say Day

Learn more about this topic and others and share your views: 

Thursday, December 6, 2018
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Seaside Centre - 5790 Teredo St, Sechelt

Email haveyoursay@sechelt.ca to share your thoughts before December 14, 2018.