Legislation introduced by the provincial government last November removed strata corporations’ ability to restrict rental units in multi-family dwellings.
It also made the only permissible age restriction bylaw 55+, a move many of B.C.’s strata corporations are considering.
While some communities previously had 19+ and 45+ age restrictions, those limits are no longer allowed.
“Strata corporations have always been able to have age restriction bylaws – anywhere from 19 and over to 55 and over – all government did was simply, clearly define that the only permissible age restriction bylaw is 55 and over,” said Condominium Homeowners of B.C. executive director Tony Gioventu.
Despite these changes, there is one restriction strata councils can still enforce through bylaws – specifically, short-term rentals, he noted.
“Strata corporations are still permitted to adopt a bylaw that prohibits short-term accommodations – predominantly Airbnb or VRBO – the types of businesses that use housing for profit-based accommodation, not necessarily for rentals and full-time accommodations,” he said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated there were 50,000 Airbnbs across the province, “and that was a conservative number.”
“Short-term accommodation has had a huge impact on housing in B.C.,” especially in strata housing, Gioventu said.
While the legislation introduced in November prohibits stratas from restricting rentals, Airbnb and VRBO are not rentals as defined under the Strata Property Act or the Residential Tenancy Act, but are business activities such as short-term, hotel-type use.
A joint advisory group between Union of B.C. Municipalities and the province was convened to look at the impact of short-term rentals on the housing market in 2020.
The group found that short-term rentals often negatively impact housing availability and affordability, though they said more data was needed to determine how much short-term rentals were impacting the housing market.
Short-term rentals have also generated many complaints related to noise, parking, garbage and safety from neighbours, but they do offer benefits for interim worker housing, giving temporary employees a place to stay and freeing up rental units for longer-term tenants, as well as increased tourism accommodation capacity.
In November 2021, the UBCM released a report with 13 requests to implement a provincial regulatory framework for the short-term rental industry.
– with files from Cole Schisler