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Airbnb, short-term vacation rentals get Kelowna council's attention

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August 22, 2016 - 11:37 AM

KELOWNA - Short-term rentals such as AirBnB are growing quickly and now the City of Kelowna has them in its sights.

With vacancy rates in Kelowna hovering around 0.6 per cent, the estimated 500 units taken up by short-term rental is an attractive target, urban planning manager Ryan Smith says in a report to council.

Bylaw officers received about 50 complaints in 2015 concerning short-term rentals, mostly related to noise and parking violations, and Smith says the number of complaints has been rising each year.

Best estimates of the size of the secondary rental market — carriage houses, secondary suites and detached homes, plus condos — are about 12,700 units.

Possible effects are the impact of continued conversion of housing to stock to short-term rentals, lost tax revenue, compliance concerns with health and safety regulations and neighbourhood disruptions.

Smith has presented a number of possibilities available to the city to control short term rentals including limiting them to specific zones, creating short term rental subzones in certain areas, separation requirements between individual units and requiring extra car and boat parking.

More effective to staff would be the use of business license regulations to control short-term housing and could include no new business licenses when the vacancy rate is below three per cent.

Smith reports whatever strategy council eventually chooses, it will require additional bylaw resources and a rejigging of the business license fee.

Another simpler option would be to enforce the laws that are currently on the books, Smith says, and turn from complaint-based enforcement to active monitoring.


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