Desk and chair in a room

City strengthens short-term rental regulations after first year shows results

Building on the success of the first year of the short-term rentals program, City Council has approved changes to strengthen regulations

"While our short-term rentals program is still new, we're seeing it make a positive impact on housing in our city," said Mayor Kennedy Stewart

November 7 2019 –

We have seen one of the highest licence compliance rates of any major North American city. Since the regulations were introduced, more than 2,100 long-term rental (LTR) licenses have been issued - nearly 80% are for individual condo units.

Results of the program

Aligning with our goal to protect long-term housing, more than 2,000 delisted short-term rental units (STR) have not returned to the market.

Dr. David Wachsmuth, co-author of a forthcoming independent report on short-term rentals, has tracked frequently rented STR units in Vancouver, and estimates that 300 of these units have likely returned to the LTR market. In response to these early and promising results, City staff will partner with academics to further study the impact short-term rental regulations have on long-term housing in Vancouver.

Another significant step in the past year has been forming strata partnerships to protect nearly 6,500 long-term housing units in 18 buildings from becoming short-term rentals.

"While our short-term rentals program is still new, we're seeing it make a positive impact on housing in our city," said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. "But until our vacancy rate improves, short-term rentals should only be in a person's principal residence, and we will be reaching out to listing platforms and the province to ensure our regulations are followed."

Our focus

The focus going forward into the second year will be on continuing to expand strata partnerships to include more buildings, and reducing the number of commercial, non-principal residences, and fraudulent operators:

  • False declarations made during the business licence application process are now an offence under municipal by-laws and may be referred to prosecution
  • As part of the audit process, operators may be required to submit marketing and booking information to verify bookings are in adherence with regulations
  • Any third-party who markets or manages more than one legal short-term rental unit must obtain a valid property management business licence

"We know that regulating short-term rentals is complicated, and the steady progress we see is encouraging," said Kathryn Holm, Chief Licence Inspector. "At this time, we are not making any significant changes to the program, and will continue to focus our efforts on bringing all operators into compliance with our regulations."

How we will strengthen the program

Additional measures that will strengthen the short-term rentals program in 2020 include:

  • Establishing a community working group to identify community interest ideas and concerns
  • Reviewing technologies to help streamline enforcement activities
  • Working with the real estate community to bring awareness of regulations and to develop a strategy to deter listings framed as short-term rentals

Quick facts

About the program

  • Our short-term rental regulations were enacted by Council on April 18, 2018, and enforcement took full effect on September 1, 2018
  • As of October 10, 2019, we have issued 4,064 short-term rental business licences
  • Nearly 73% of short-term rental operators in Vancouver have obtained a business licence - one of the highest compliance rates in North America
  • A person may only obtain one short-term rental business licence for the residence in which they reside. Businesses and commercial operators are ineligible to apply for a short-term rental licence
  • Operators who are ineligible to obtain a short-term rental business licence may apply for a long-term rental business licence

Enforcement

  • We enforce against operators who are not in compliance with regulations
  • Business licenses are suspended as result of operators not meeting principal residence requirements, failing to have strata or landlord permission to operate, operating illegal, unsafe or nuisance dwellings, or failing to provide the requested documentation
  • Fourteen months after enforcement of our short-term rentals took full effect on September 1, 2019, the number of active listings is down to 5,000 compared to over 6,600 before regulations were enacted in April 2018.
  • Staff have initiated more than 3,600 enforcement casefiles against suspected unauthorized operators. As a result:
    • $113,000 in violation tickets have been collected
    • Six Provincial Court convictions have imposed fines of $62,000 against illegal short-term rental operators
    • More than 600 licensed and unlicensed short-term rental units have delisted with the potential to be converted to long-term listings
    • 223 previously licensed operators have voluntarily closed their short-term rental business licence
    • Nearly 150 illegal operators have come into compliance with regulations by acquiring a STR business licence