Short-term rental accommodation is becoming more closely monitored by local governments. File photo

Courtenay to develop regulations for short-term rentals

Regulating short-term rental accommodation (less than a month) is becoming more common among local governments.

Typically, owners are required to occupy a home. Capping the number of days per year to rent a unit is another strategy. Such regulations encourage owners to make units available year-round in the form of long-term rental leases, which increases the supply.

In recent years, the City of Courtenay has received about a dozen inquiries about short-term rental accommodations, but has never received complaints. However, as the sector continues to grow, staff expect the City will benefit by establishing regulations.

Negative impacts on affordable housing supply, and on the character and quality of life in neighbourhoods are commonly cited concerns about short-term rentals. Another issue is unfair competition with the hotel sector.

“Some believe short-term accommodation operators do not pay taxes,” a staff report states.

On the flip side, commonly cited benefits include bolstering tourist accommodations and providing additional income for homeowners to offset mortgage costs.

“While I know we’re seeing changes with more rental accommodation being built, I think we need to be mindful of the possibility that accommodation will be taken out of the rental market for the sake of Airbnbs and other vacation rentals,” Doug Hillian said at the June 1 council meeting. “I think business licences make good sense, but I also think we should be primarily looking at owner-occupied residences so that we don’t get into the situation where a large interest develops a building full of short-term rental suites. That in my view is unfair competition with our hotel industry, which is certainly going to be hurting in the wake of the pandemic.”

Council agreed with his views about owner-occupied.

Hillian favours short-term rental policies developed in Victoria and Tofino, which mandate business licences.

Staff will begin the process of developing regulations.

In a related matter, the regional district is conducting a Housing Needs Assessment which, among other things, will consider how short-term rental accommodations impact the long-term rental accommodation market in the Comox Valley.

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