Short-term rental business licence: glossary of terms
Find definitions to specific terms from the short-term rental business licence application.
Terms used in business licence eligibility
A principal residence is the residential address where you (the operator):
- Live, make your home, and conduct your daily affairs
- Pay and receive bills
- Use on government records such as income tax and Medical Services Plan
A commercial or investment property is not a principal residence.
Automatic sprinkler systems are heat-activated and can quickly confine a small fire to where it starts.
Starting in 2023, if your short-term rental accommodation is attached to another dwelling unit, you need a sprinkler system.
If you have an existing sprinkler system, it needs to be in working order.
To install, repair, or modify a sprinkler system, you need a fire sprinkler permit.
An alternative to this requirement is for the walls, floors, and ceilings that divide a dwelling unit from the rest of a building to have a fire-resistance rating of 45 minutes.
You need at least one working carbon monoxide (CO) detector on each floor of the dwelling unit if your dwelling unit has a gas appliance. This includes floors that aren't used for the short-term rental accommodation.
As a short-term rental accommodation operator, you and your guests need to follow all relevant City bylaws, including about parking and noise.
A legal dwelling unit is a residence that:
- Has been issued an occupancy permit by the City
- Meets zoning, building, and fire regulations
Accessory buildings such as garages or art studios are not dwelling units.
Short-term rentals are not permitted in Rental 100 buildings as these buildings are designed to provide long-term rental housing for Vancouver residents.
Applicants applying for a short-term rental business licence for a unit in a Rental 100 building will not be not be auto-issued a licence.
A fire alarm system uses bells or speakers to alert everyone in the building about a fire emergency. Smoke detectors, heat detectors, pull stations, or fire sprinklers can start fire alarms.
You need a working fire alarm system if one of these statements applies to you:
- Your building has more than three dwelling units
- Your building has more than five bedrooms
- Your short-term rental accommodation has more than 11 occupants
Your building or short-term rental accommodation may be exempt from this requirement. Contact the Development and Building Services Centre to check.
To install a fire alarm system, you need a building permit and electrical permit.
Smoke alarms are separate from fire alarm systems. Smoke alarms alert everyone in a suite about a fire emergency. You need an interconnected smoke alarm in each dwelling unit.
Fire separation is the walls, floors, and ceilings that:
- Block fire from spreading in a building
- Keep a building stable during a fire for a time
Walls, floors, and ceilings that divide a dwelling unit from the rest of a building need a fire-resistance rating of 45 minutes. This applies to a secondary suite in a house.
To meet this rating:
- Use Type X gypsum board that's at least 15.9 mm (5/8 inch) thick on both sides of the dividing walls, floors, and ceilings
- Protect openings in the fire separation (fire dampers for heating vents, fire doors for doorways)
To upgrade existing walls, floors, and ceilings, you need a building permit.
An alternative to this requirement is to install a fire sprinkler system in the principal dwelling and secondary suite.
Interconnected smoke alarms (also called smoke detectors) are set off by any one alarm in a system, when one smoke alarm in a dwelling is activated by smoke, all smoke alarms in the dwelling and associated suites will sound.
Interconnected smoke alarms can be battery-powered or hard-wired (connected to a permanent electrical circuit). However, not all hard-wired smoke alarms are interconnected.
You need interconnected smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom of the dwelling unit. Interconnected smoke alarms may be purchased from a hardware store.
You need a business licence to operate a business in the City of Vancouver.