Dianne Varga has been a renter all her life. That’s one of the reasons why she’s taking aim at Kelowna’s proposed bylaw on short-term rentals with the creation of a group called Renters United Kelowna.
On Monday, council gave first reading to a bylaw to address the growing problem of short term rentals.
Under the proposal, anyone who owns a home that is considered the owner’s principal residence can rent out a room, as long as it’s not a secondary suite or carriage house.
READ MORE: Kelowna cracking down on short-term rentals
However, that rule won’t apply to certain condo projects, both new and existing. That’s because they’ve been grandfathered in.
Varga says exempting hundreds of units isn’t fair.
“We want it to apply to the mom and dad mortgage holders,” said Varga. “We also want it to apply to all residential developments.”
With Kelowna’s vacancy rate below two per cent, Varga also fears that more short term rentals will have an impact on the long term rental market and drive up house prices.
“Another main danger of short term rentals is increased house prices and increased rental rates,” said Varga.
Mayor Colin Basran says the city is trying to strike a balance between short-term and long-term rentals.
“We’re trying to free up homes for people to live here long term,” said Basran. “That is one of the key reasons why we’re putting in these new regulations is to create more long term homes.”
As for grandfathering more than a dozen developments, Basran says those projects were already approved for short-term rentals and the city can’t turn back the clock.
“These projects were brought forward with one set of rules,” said Basra. “And then to enforce with new or different rules while they’re in stream of construction, or with a particular business model that works for their funding, and then to change that could put potential projects in jeopardy or change the scope in which they were intended originally when they came forward to council.”
A public hearing on short term rentals will be held March. The city hopes to have the new rules in place by this spring.