Burnaby could see strict caps on short-term rentals, as a proposed regulation focuses on maintaining rental stock and preserving the residential essence of neighbourhoods.
If the proposed regulations pass unscathed through public consultations and final council approvals, anyone offering a short-term rental could only do so in their primary residence, whether it’s renting a single room or the entire residence while the owners are away.
Further, those renting out their home would be restricted to only 90 days per year, of which only 28 can be used to rent out the entire home. That issue proved to be the most controversial in a recent council meeting in which the proposal was approved for public consultations.
“That seems quite restrictive,” Coun. Colleen Jordan said. “In the materials supplied, no other city in the region has any kind of a cap.”
Planning and building director Ed Kozak said the committee largely looked at it as a matter of maintaining the rental stock and not diminishing the residential feel of neighbourhoods with short-term rentals.
Coun. Dan Johnston noted some homeowners rely on renting a room out short-term to pay their mortgage and their bills.
“And if we take it away, I’m not sure we’re going to get, necessarily, more units. We’re just going to have people having to, unfortunately, sell their homes for causes beyond their control,” Johnston said.
Coun. Sav Dhaliwal, however, said he would have put the cap well below the 90 days to protect local housing.
“I think this framework actually secures a pretty good balance between what we need locally to preserve rental homes, rental places for people who live here. It also allows people to use, occasionally, when they’re not home – this is not a money-making proposition for people to use for six months (per year),” Coun. Sav Dhaliwal said.
“If people want to do that, they might as well get a business licence. This is not what we should be doing. … We know how destructive (short-term rentals are), now, in Burnaby.”
Dhaliwal noted one building in his neighbourhood that has more than a dozen units being regularly rented out and said he gets calls from people who are “bothered by these overnighters all year long, different people coming there.”
The proposed regulation also bans short-term rentals in seniors’ housing, purpose-built rentals, secondary units and carriage homes to preserve the rental stock in the city.
According to a staff report, the rental stock in 2019 was pegged at 1.3%, a drop from the 2% seen in 2018 and well below the 3% to 4% that is generally seen as healthy.
The regulation would also see the city develop a business licence for the short-term rentals, which staff said would offer the city more enforcement options, help fund enforcement through business licence fees and allow the city to better monitor short-term rentals in the community.
The bylaw would also force homeowners to have a business licence to advertise their rentals and post their business licence number in the advertisement.
While enforcement has so far been complaint-based, staff suggested the city take a more active approach to enforcement, including actively searching online for short-term rental ads and working with a third-party data monitoring firm to garner more data on local short-term rentals through means the city doesn’t have access to.
Council voted to approve the proposed regulations for public engagement, with Jordan and Johnston opposed.