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Court case against B.C.’s short-term rental rules begins in Victoria

Click to play video: 'B.C. short term rental challenge in court'
B.C. short term rental challenge in court
Some people who invested in short-term rentals in B.C. say they've taken a big financial hit since new provincial regulations came into effect last month. Richard Zussman has the story – Jun 17, 2024

Premier David Eby is standing firm in the face of a court challenge on Monday against the province’s limits on short-term rentals.

As of May 1, people in B.C. can no longer offer short-term rentals unless they are on the property where they live.

A group of property owners is now taking the province and the City of Victoria to court, claiming the new rules are not legal and are creating financial hardships.

Click to play video: 'New B.C. short-term rental rules go into effect'
New B.C. short-term rental rules go into effect

“They’re asking the court to determine the limits of the recent legislation and how far it goes, taking away people’s rights to continue the short-term rental operations that they have had legally operated in the province for the last several years,” John Alexander, a partner with Cox Taylor Lawyers who is representing the petitioners, told Global News.

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“We’re seeking declarations that the new legislation does not, in fact, take away the existing rights or vested rights, as we call it, to the business owners, operators to continue their business in British Columbia.”

Alexander said people are finding themselves caught up in this legislation, including those in places like Tofino and Kelowna where purpose-built vacation rental homes were constructed and sold on the basis that they were to be used intermittently.

Click to play video: 'Short-term rental debate heats up on Bowen Island'
Short-term rental debate heats up on Bowen Island

Orino Rogers, spokesperson for the Property Rights Association, told Global News that they are in court to challenge the Short-Term Rental Accommodations Regulation.

“Today is our first day of court proceedings to challenge this act and find out if it is unjust, if it’s government overreach, and if it’s cancelling people’s vested rights,” he said.

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Rogers added that if the province needs more homes, they should build them.

“I think the most important part of that aspect is that these properties were marketed and sold, with a licence to operate a short-term rental,” he said.

“And so you have to look at the fact that everyone that purchased these properties played by those rules. And what’s been happening now is they’ve changed the rules.”

Eby has said the restrictions are needed to help the province provide much-needed housing for the rapidly-growing population.

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