Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon promised that pending legislation around short-term vacation rentals will not only give municipalities better tools for tracking and enforcement, but also get more housing back into the rental market.
Kahlon made these comments Wednesday (Aug. 16) during an event in Delta, where he announced 152 housing units for low-to-moderate income seniors. But Kahlon’s media availability after the announcement saw him field several questions about short-term rentals.
While short-term vacation rentals offered through platforms like AirBnB have become an accepted and increasingly licensed source of accommodation, municipalities are struggling with control over their use, and loss of housing. Short-term vacation rentals offer more profitable returns with fewer hassles than traditional rentals, worsening the housing situation.
“Many communities highlight the lack of accessible data (around STVRs),” Kahlon said. “Many communities, like Vancouver say ‘we have a system,’ yet there are many illegal operations and it is hard for them to enforce the rules that they have. So those are things that we will be addressing.
“I can’t go too much into legislation, there are some final details that we are just finalizing, other than to say that it is vitally important.”
He added the legislation could immediately bring more housing into the market, “with the understanding that some of these types of short-term rentals are going to be here in the future because they have become important in (tourism-heavy) communities.”
It is a question of balancing different interests and the legislation will find that balance, he said.
“It’s a challenge, but we have to navigate that,” Kahlon said. “We have students living six, seven to one-bedroom suites right now,” he said. “We have seniors displaced and nowhere to go and finding themselves after a life of work in shelters. So, it is a challenge, but we have to take this one on.”
Questions around short-term vacation rentals have vexed communities and various sectors (such as the hospitality industry) for years and BC Green House Leader Adam Olsen Tuesday repeated calls for a provincial-wide registry of short-term vacation rentals as part of a tougher regulatory approach.
“They (the provincial government) need to increase STVR platform accountability by ensuring only registered properties are listed, authorize regional districts to issue business licenses and provide resources for local governments to enforce existing bylaws,” Olsen said.
When asked about the chance that the legislation will include such a registry, Kahlon said MLAs from all parties had previously advocated for solutions.
“It’s great to hear that,” Kahlon said. “I look forward to hearing his suggestions. We are on the path to address the challenges that were highlighted to us (by) UBCM and having good data, having a system that is able to actually track how many of these units are actually online in our communities is an important part of that.”
Kahlon added that he has not ruled out a province-wide registry of short-term vaction rentals.
“I don’t recalling saying no (to a province-wide registry),” he said. “I did say there are some final pieces that we need to go through before the legislation can be introduced and will be introducing that this fall.”