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B.C. to bring in new rules on short-term rentals to create more housing



The British Columbia government is forging ahead with innovative legislation aimed at addressing the shortage of rental housing by placing restrictions on the rapidly expanding short-term rental market. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon introduced the bill in the legislature on Monday, emphasizing the urgent need to rein in the proliferation of short-term rental units and target areas with high housing demands.


Kahlon highlighted the pressing issue of extremely low vacancy rates across the province, stating that people are struggling to find affordable homes, and the surge in short-term rentals is exacerbating the problem. The proposed legislation aims to tackle this challenge head-on by introducing measures that encourage more long-term rental housing options.


One of the key provisions of the legislation is the requirement for individuals offering short-term accommodation to reside on the property they are renting. Kahlon argued that short-term rentals are currently removing thousands of homes from communities in British Columbia, contributing to the housing crisis.


To ensure effective enforcement and taxation, the legislation compels short-term rental platforms, including industry giants like Airbnb, VRBO, Expedia, and FlipKey, to share their data with the province. The proposed rules also limit short-term rentals to a host's primary residence, a basement suite, or a laneway home on their property.


These regulations will primarily apply to communities with populations of 10,000 or more, recognizing the diverse housing needs of different regions. A provincial host and platform registry is expected to be established by late next year to facilitate better monitoring and enforcement.


Premier David Eby underscored the urgency of the situation, noting that the number of short-term rentals has surged in recent years. The government aims to address what he termed as "profit-driven mini-hotel operators" by introducing stringent enforcement tools.


"Anyone who's looking for an affordable place to live knows how hard it is, and short-term rentals are making it even more challenging," said Eby in a statement. The legislation swiftly passed through the legislature and advanced to the second reading on Tuesday, reflecting the government's commitment to expedite solutions to the housing crisis.


Commenting on the proposed policy, David Wachsmuth, the Canada Research Chair in Urban Governance at McGill University, commended British Columbia's initiative. He stated that the new rules set a standard that the rest of the country should follow, describing them as sensible and evidence-based. Wachsmuth believes that these regulations will prioritize the needs of British Columbia residents and contribute to bringing available rental housing back into the long-term market.


As British Columbia takes the lead in addressing the challenges posed by short-term rentals, the effectiveness of these measures will likely serve as a model for other provinces grappling with similar housing issues across Canada.


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