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B.C. will take 'bigger role' in addressing short-term rentals, housing minister says

B.C.’s housing minister has confirmed the province will be taking “a bigger role in addressing short-term rentals” when new legislation is introduced in the fall.

Ravi Kahlon made the comments in response to a new study by McGill University that estimates British Columbia’s renters are paying roughly 20 per cent more than they otherwise would have due to the impact of short-term rentals.

“This is the first time I’ve seen this kind of raw data,” Kahlon said, hinting that there will be new rules targetted at companies like Airbnb and VRBO.

“It won’t just be the landlords that have responsibilities, we believe the companies have a responsibility,” he said. “To not only support the local government but also enforce the rules that local governments put in place.”

This kind of action has been in the works for months. Kahlon’s mandate letter from Premier David Eby in December instructs him to introduce "legislation establishing new tools for local governments to help them better regulate short term rentals in their communities.”

Leader of the BC Green party, Sonia Furstenau, said the study confirms “what a lot of people think and experience” when it comes to rent increases across the province.

“When we have evidence and data like this, then what we need is for government to act,” Furstenau said. “Let's treat this like the emergency that it is and have a provincial government that is going to take action.”

In the spring, Furstenau’s party called on the government to establish a provincial registry, authorize regional districts to issue business licences for operators, and provide greater support for compliance and enforcement.

“I hope to hear from the province very concrete steps that they will take very quickly,” Furstenau said.

Until now, enforcement of short-term rental operators has been left up to municipalities, and only Vancouver has rules regarding operator registration and length of stay for guests.

But even with those controls in place, it’s estimated there are still around 2,000 listings operating without a licence.

Last week, the city voted to increase the annual licensing fee from $109 to $1,000.

“That will go to hiring more enforcement officers and other personnel and investing in more technology and business analytics platforms so we can enhance the enforcement effort,” said Coun. Lenny Zhuo.

But Zhuo said the city needs more help from the province.

“I personally sent a letter to Minister Khalon and also Premier Eby to express some of the concerns in the City of Vancouver,” Zhou said. “And we really need support from the province to make sure the legislation can empower us to do a better job in terms of enforcement.” Top Stories

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