British Columbia has passed legislation that allows strata corporations to increase fines on short-term rentals such as those secured through Airbnb.
Currently, strata associations can adopt bylaws prohibiting or restricting short-term rentals and enforce a fine of up to $200 per week. With the new change to the Stata Property Regulation that goes into effect November 30, those fines can increase to $1,000 a day.
Lawmakers says the change is needed to protect long-term rental availability and comes at as time when the province is implementing its plans to increase the inventory of affordable rental housing. The income that can be generated from nightly or short-term rentals plays a significant role in reducing the availability of housing, and in increasing rents and home prices.
Major associations support the move, citing the need for better security in buildings, less wear and tear on common areas, and reduction of noise complaints. Short-term renters, particularly vacationers, are notorious for causing property damage, disturbances, and crime. Police have intervened in raucous parties, hosts have experienced property damage, and one guest refused to leave without being evicted. Guests may return home with no accountability for the damage they caused.
Part of the problem is a lack of supervision by tenants who allow the sublets, but the crux of the issue is the lack of screening of guests given access to units and common areas. As Sandy Wagner, president of the board of directors of Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association explains, “The wear and tear on the common property, as well as the security concerns caused by a steady stream of unknown occupants are just a few of the reasons why VISOA, on behalf of our members, are pleased to support the proposed amendments to the Strata Property Regulation, which will permit strata corporations to assess fines at a real deterrent level.”
The Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C. also supports the change. Executive Director Tony Gioventu points out that deriving income from overnight or short-term rentals is a commercial use which is different than the intended residential rental, and the stiffer penalties provide some “real consequences for violators.” Gioventu advises strata corporations who prohibit short-term use to amend their bylaws at a general meeting to permit the higher penalties.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing estimates more than 1.5 million people live in strata housing throughout British Columbia, which includes condos, duplexes, townhouses, timeshares, and single-family homes in strata subdivisions.
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