Short-term rental operators in Vernon, B.C. could soon have some new rules to follow.
The Okanagan city is considering following the lead of other tourist towns and regulating the industry, which includes listings on popular sites like Airbnb and VRBO.
The municipality says currently some vacation rentals are having an impact on neighbours and there are concerns about the long term rental market.
Specifically, the city says it has received complaints about issues like noise and parking related to short-term rentals.
A city report stated there are also concern that the growing vacation rental industry is putting more stress on the Vernon’s long-term rental market, where the vacancy rate is just 0.7 per cent.
Vernon’s proposed approach to regulation, which the city council endorsed in principle this week, involves creating new business licence categories for short-term rentals.
Under the proposed new regulation, a minor short-term rental licence would be available in any residential area and would allow people to rent out part of their principal residence short-term, but a property host would need to live onsite.
A major licence would only be available in certain areas of the city and would allow an entire property to be rented short-term. With a major licence, a manager would have to be available around the clock, if needed, but wouldn’t have to live on site.
The proposed regulation has the support of city councillor Teresa Durning, who believes there needs to be some structure placed on the industry.
“In terms of tourism I think it is great and I think it is beneficial, but again we just don’t want everybody with a short-term rental going rogue and doing what they want and allowing havoc in neighbourhoods,” said Durning.
Only counting the units listed on Airbnb and VRBO, the municipality says there are 274 short-term rentals in Vernon.
Durning believes the rentals are valuable to the local tourist economy, but need to be regulated.
“I believe it is a sector that is growing and it can only get better for us here in Vernon but we don’t want the neighbours all having negatiave experinces becasue we failed to regulate the industry. We have the ability to do that in the municipality and I think we are well on our way,” Durning said.
None of the 10 Vernon Airbnb hosts Global News reached out to for reaction made themselves available for an interview by Tuesday’s broadcast deadline.
But in a message, one host told Global News owners still want access to their investment property in the summer so won’t rent long-term, year-round. Another host wrote that they “do not support more government overreach and frivolous bureaucratic measures.”
Notably, in a city survey, only five of the 26 short-term rental hosts that responded said their space would have been rented to a long-term tenant if it wasn’t being used for a short-term rental.
The city plans to work out the details of the new proposed regulations and seek additional feedback in the coming months.
A public hearing is planned for early September.