Short-term rental regulations in British Columbia in 2023: what you should know
By Nathan Guss|7 min|March 2023
British Columbia has both province-wide and municipal regulations governing short-term rentals. Read more to learn about provincial regulations and see examples of how three different cities handle the issue as of 2023.
British Columbia has among the most stringent short-term rental (STR) regulations in Canada. Although they can create more work upfront for prospective hosts, the upshot is that they safeguard the real estate and long-term rental markets, protect consumer health and safety, and build consumer trust.
This article explains provincial regulations and provides an example of a major city, a mid-sized city and a small town to give you a general idea of what to expect. Regulations vary in every municipality, so you will need to talk with a relevant local official or real estate lawyer to find out about your town’s requirements.
- To operate a temporary rental accommodation, you need a business licence. Fees and application procedures depend on local regulations.
- British Columbia gives strata corporations the right to create short-term rental bylaws (more on that below).
- Otherwise, the province allows municipalities to set their own rules for STRs.
- British Columbia applies an 8% provincial sales tax to short-term rentals. Up to 3% more can be added as municipal and regional district taxes.
What are strata corporations?
A strata (aka strata corporation) is a building or a piece of land divided up between different owners. A strata can be a condominium complex, apartment building, duplex or single-family home in a residential development. If you live in one of these types of residences, find out whether it’s “strata-titled.”
Strata corporations can limit or prohibit short-term rentals. Be sure that you’re aware of all short-term rental bylaws if you live in one. Owners or residents can be fined up to $1,000 per day for violating them.
Prospective hosts must have a short-term rental business licence. You can apply online. If applicable, you need strata approval before you apply. If you’re a tenant, the landlord’s approval is required. You also need to confirm that you meet all the city’s health and safety requirements. The non-refundable application fee is $66, and the annual fee is $109.
You can only rent your primary residence or a room therein where zoning bylaws don’t prohibit temporary rentals. A primary residence is defined as the home you live in and the address you use for taxes, bills, insurance and identification purposes. Laneway and secondary suites (such as a carriage house or in-law suite) are only eligible if they are your primary residence. In other words, you cannot operate a temporary rental in a laneway suite on your property if you live in the main residence.
- A rental period cannot exceed 30 days.
- Property management companies that market and manage the accommodation must have a valid property management licence.
All STR operators in Kelowna must have a business licence. You can apply online ($25 non-refundable fee) or in person at the Application Centre in City Hall (bring an ID and information about your business). You must also complete and submit a short-term rental business licence application form, a self-evaluation fire & safety form, good neighbour agreement form and strata consent form (when relevant). A short-term rental business licence costs $345 for a principal residence and $750 for other residences.
The STR unit must be your principal residence unless it is located in an area zoned for short-term rentals as a principal use or a principal use with a 6-month limit. The city provides an online zoning map so you can see how your home is zoned.
- Stays can be no longer than 29 days.
- Short-term rentals are prohibited in carriage houses or secondary suites.
- Tenants must obtain permission from their landlords to rent out their homes.
- For single-family homes or duplexes, you must provide a parking map showing that there are enough parking spaces in your neighbourhood.
All hosts must have a business licence. The type of licence depends on how your property is zoned. In residential zones, you need a short-term rental business licence. Licences can be obtained in City Hall from Development Services. Prospective hosts must fill out an application form. If your property is in a commercial zone, you need a tourist accommodation licence, which can be obtained from City Hall commercial services representatives. These applicants fill out the standard business licence application. Accommodations must meet the safety standards set out in the STR application form.
The rental unit must be the host’s primary residence. If you’re interested in operating a short-term rental in Nelson, you should be aware that the city has caps on the number of STR licences issued (110 annual and 40 four-month licences). There is no limit on the number of 31-day licences, but you can only obtain two yearly.
Each city block has a three-licence quota. The city provides an online map that shows how many licences are already on each block so that you can check whether your property is eligible.
- Stays must be 30 days or less.
- For guest home licences, the accommodation cannot be advertised as available for more than 182 days yearly unless there is another home on the property.
- Laneway houses built after June 11, 2018, aren’t eligible.
- Properties must have someone who can answer a phone call within 15 minutes and lives within 30 km of the rental unit.
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