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Short-term rental rules to tighten in West Kelowna

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

West Kelowna is one of the few cities in BC that has the right to opt out of tough new provincial rules clamping down on short-term rentals.

City staff are recommending that council does just that but is also recommending stronger rules of its own and piggybacking on some of the new provincial regulations.

“By opting out, the City of West Kelowna can determine a best fit approach for residency,” says a report going to council tomorrow, Feb. 27.

The new provincial rules, which take effect May 1, include the requirement that rental units be an individual’s principal residence, meaning they live there for a longer period of the year than anywhere else.

READ MORE: No exemptions for Kelowna property owners wanting to stay in short-term rental market

West Kelowna, by opting out, would avoid that restriction but staff are recommending that only owners be allowed to rent the units out, eliminating tenants doing so. While the units don't have to be the owners' principal residences, they have to be staying on-site when their units are rented.

Another difference is length of rental. Provincial rules apply to any rentals of less than 90 days while West Kelowna is recommending covering anything less than 30 days.

Opting out also means that the province’s principle residency rules do not apply to units in tourist commercial zones (Barona Beach Resort, Boucherie Beach Cottages, Paradise Estates, The Cove Lakeside Resort, Barona Beach, Boucherie Beach Cottages and Casa Loma Resort).

West Kelowna staff are all in favour of adopting the province’s requirement to have the units licenced and have that licence number listed on all ads placed on sites like Airbnb and VRBO. It will also use the province’s licence enforcement system when it is up and running. That’s expected to be in place late in 2024.

The city also wants to implement the province’s new maximum fine for violating most rules of $3,000. The maximum is $500 now.

READ MORE: West Kelowna's high rental vacancy rate is a Canadian rarity

West Kelowna can opt out because its rental vacancy rate has been more than 3% in each of the past two years (3.4% in 2022 and 4.2% last year).

The city has the option to opt back into the provincial rules as of March 31 of each year.

The West Kelowna rule changes will have to go to a public hearing before being adopted.

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