British Columbia

Richmond, B.C., considering how to legalize, regulate, Airbnb rentals

A staff report tabled Tuesday recommends regulating short-term rentals, saying that would be more practical than banning them outright.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie says there are over 1,500 short-term rental listings in Richmond, B.C.

The City of Richmond's proposed regulations for short-term rentals will now go out for stakeholder consultation. (Volodymyr Kyrylyuk/Shutterstock)

The City of Richmond, B.C., is considering how to legalize short-term rentals.

A staff report tabled Tuesday recommends regulating the operations because it says that would be more practical than banning them outright.

"We're faced with choices. We can either ignore the problem, attempt to prohibit it, which would be really difficult or we could do what we did with secondary suites," Mayor Malcolm Brodie told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

"We said we would allow them under certain circumstances. We'll control, we'll regulate and monitor the situation to make sure there's some semblance of order."

The staff report proposes short-term rental operators acquire a business license, be a primary resident of the home, not have more than six renters and comply with fire and building regulations.

Brodie says there are over 1,500 short-term rental listings in Richmond across websites like Airbnb, VRBO and others.

The city has not issued any fines for the currently illegal short-term rentals, but it received about 100 complaints in 2016 from citizens about noise, traffic, land-use violations, health and safety of these properties.

Mayor wants Hotel Tax applied

One of the city's primary concerns with short-term rentals is how they impact neighbourhoods and housing availability, concerns voiced on Twitter by Coun. Harold Steves.

Brodie says one goal of regulating the properties is to crack down on some of those impacts, especially in situations where an entire home is being run essentially like a small hotel.

"There could be more traffic, more people coming into the neighbourhood, more strangers in the neighbourhood, heavier use of utilities.

"People who've bought in a single-family area … are not buying into a commercial area where you have these short-term rentals and people coming and going."

Brodie says going forward, he wants the province to help by applying the Hotel Tax to earnings from short-term rentals.

The proposed regulations will now go out for stakeholder consultation.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Richmond to regulate Airbnb rentals impacting neighbourhoods

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