B.C. condo owners who break the rules by allowing short-term rentals through sites like Airbnb could soon be slapped with fines of up to $1,000 per day by their strata corporations.
Currently, stratas can pass bylaws banning short-term rentals, with a maximum fine of $200 per week.
The province says the new rules are meant to free up long-term rental stock in housing markets, many of which are facing rental vacancy rates at or below one per cent.
It says short-term rentals can also mean unwanted noise, damage and security issues in strata complexes.
“With $200 dollars a week, it wasn’t a disincentive,” said Housing Minister Selina Robinson.
“But at $1,000 it will make a significant difference in terms of eating into whatever profits people are making.”
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Robinson added that services like Airbnb are meant to serve as an option for homeowners who want to rent out a room or their unit while they are away on vacation.
But she said landlords are now trying to cash in by turning their property into for-profit businesses.
“We’re seeing investors are taking an entire suite, an entire apartment and operating it like a hotel,” she said.
Strata lawyer Grant Haddock called the new fines substantial, but necessary.
“Airbnb is taking up a lot of units that could otherwise be used for ordinary rental,” he said.
He described the move as a step in the right direction towards addressing the region’s housing crisis.
The BC government says starting November 30th, a strata can fine a host of a short-term rental a thousand dollars a day, a big jump from the original 200 a week.
New fines kick in November 30, and are not automatically applied.
Strata corporations still need to decide whether or not to restrict short-term rentals, and would have to amend their own bylaws to raise the fines to the new maximum.
The non-profit Condominium Home Owners’ Association of British Columbia says it supports the move, which it says it will help define commercial use as different from a rental.
More than 1.5 million British Columbians live in stratas throughout the province, according to the ministry.