Regulations controlling short term rentals in Kelowna would be useless if not enforced - InfoNews

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Regulations controlling short term rentals in Kelowna would be useless if not enforced

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March 12, 2019 - 5:00 PM

KELOWNA - If Kelowna city council approves the proposed short term rental rules going to a public hearing tonight, the $10,000 per day fine for violations would be some of the highest in North America.

“That would be a very high fine,” Ulrik Binzer, CEO and founder of Host Compliance told iNFOnews.ca. “I don’t know if the courts in B.C. would find that excessive.”

Only Miami Beach, Florida, is comparable, Binzer said. Host Compliance is a U.S.-based company that provides information for North American cities dealing with short term rentals.

The fine is only one of a wide range of issues that are likely to be hotly debated as Kelowna council holds a public hearing on the new regulations at 6 p.m. today, March 11.

“Pondering a pretty epic public hearing... on short term rental regulations,” Coun. Ryan Donn wrote on his Facebook page. “Each side of the argument is very compelling. As Mayor Colin Basran says, we often face difficult votes that will upset some.”

Host Compliance provided the City of Kelowna with statistics on the number of short term rentals listed for Kelowna. In a report that went to city council in December, it listed 1,158 unique online listings as of November 2017. By April 2018, that number jumped to 1,979.

When asked about how the issue is being handled around North America, he noted that regulations are one thing, but enforcement is another. Some cities have outright banned the practice but the regulations mean nothing if they’re not enforced.

Within the Okanagan, Penticton estimated there were 300 short-term rentals when they put their regulations in place. Penticton’s Building and Permitting Manager Ken Kunka said in an email that by 2017, only 75 were registered. Penticton hired and ouside contractor to enforce the rules so there are 153 licenced as of today. That number is expected to exceed 200 by mid-summer, Kunka said.

At the other end of the scale is Lake Country, which put its regulations in place last August.

A survey done at that time indicated there were about 300 rentals listed online, according to Lake Country’s Director of Community Development Mark Koch. To date only 10 of those have taken out licences. The rest face $100 fines if they don’t sign up but that will only happen if there are complaints.

The short term rental issue is being handled differently all over B.C., with many cities, like West Kelowna, not drafting any regulations.

It was a hot topic at last fall’s Union of B.C. Municipalities conference and that organization has included recommendations in its Housing Strategy. Those include asking the province to require all landlords to have licences and websites that advertise such rentals should only be allowed to list those with licences. It also suggests a maximum number of rental nights per year, such as 60, as is the case in Amsterdam.

Some details on how the issue is being handled around the world are available on Inestopedia.com. It says Santa Monica instituted the toughest rules in the U.S. in 2015 but Binzer said that city is doing a terrible job of enforcing those regulations.


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