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Vancouver rules for short-term rentals to ease city's vacancy rate: mayor

Canadian Press THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER — The city of Vancouver is moving to legalize short-term rental accommodation but operators will only be able to advertise their principal residence.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says the move is to protect and free up rental housing in response to a critically low vacancy rate.

There are roughly 6,600 short-term rentals posted online, and more than 80 per cent will remain legal under the program.

Operators will be required to apply for a business licence by Sept. 1 and include the number in their listing, which one popular company has agreed to make as a requirement on its platform.

The cost of the license is $49 annually, and operators must have permission from their landlord or condo board and adhere to fire and safety standards.

There are about 1,000 units currently listed that are not an operator's primary home and Robertson says they should go back on the rental market or be subject to a $1,000-a-day fine.

“Housing here is for homes first and be used as a business after that and be taxed as a business appropriately,'' Robertson says.

In an interview with AdvocateDaily.com, Vancouver corporate lawyer Jonathan Reilly says the principles announced today are clear, simple and better thought out than the city’s recently implemented Vacancy Tax. But the test, he adds, will be whether they are observed in practice.

“Strata owners must still comply with their bylaws, which may restrict rentals and may require obtaining the permission of their governing council, as well as with the city licensing requirements. Other cities will be watching,” says Reilly, founder of English Bay Law Corporation.

“If the result returns rental stock to the long-term rental market, it will be seen as a success worth emulating. If the result is to release a flood of non-compliant participants into the market, it will create a significant administrative burden.”

“Given the existing presence of short-term rental companies without regulatory consent, it is difficult to see how opening even a portion of the market to them will reduce the cost or increase the supply of long-term rentals when the real problem appears to be a chronic shortage of supply and the current provincial rental regime,” adds Reilly, whose firm practises corporate/commercial, real estate and wills and estates law.

— with files from AdvocateDaily.com

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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