Property owners who operate short-term vacation rentals, such as Airbnbs, in Metchosin, may soon be required to have a business licence.
During a planning committee meeting last week, council voted in favour of amending the business bylaw to add regulations to short-term vacation rentals.
“We’re trying to regulate it without being too regulatory,” Mayor John Ranns said. “We’re trying to find the balance of having regulations that will enable us to address the concerns of the neighbours, but not impede the ability for the people that want to undertake the vacation rentals to continue.”
Other regulations could require owners to provide 24/7 contact information in case of problems, contact info to adjacent residents and a $500 security deposit.
The District would have the right to suspend or cancel a business licence based on the number, frequency and scope of complaints or when conditions of the licence have been violated.
In January, the District hosted a workshop on short-term vacation rentals which drew a mixed reaction from residents – mainly those living on Sandgate Road.
Some residents said large groups or multiple families who have rented the dwellings have not been respectful of neighbours, having evening parties, and playing music and games. Others expressed concern about parking due to multiple families renting a unit and a change in the character of the neighbourhood. When attempting to contact the owners of the units, residents say they’ve been unable to do so.
However, those in favour of short-term vacation rentals argued a number of people use them as not only for vacation, but also for academic stays at Royal Roads University, if they are in transitional housing situations or are snowbirds. Other say renting out the units helps supplement the cost of the mortgage.
The District will also look at potentially limiting the number of short-term vacation rentals that can operate in a certain area – specifically to address the issues along Sandgate Road.
“The problem is there’s two sides to the story. There’s the problems that occur when you have too many vacation rentals in one spot such as Sandgate Road. But it’s a legitimate endeavour and there’s good reasons that we keep hearing why it should continue,” Ranns said. “If we were to get over-regulatory, then you’re going to run into enforcement issues.”
Ranns said the District is acting “cautiously,” noting the incoming speculation tax could have an affect on the number of short-term vacation rentals as well. The tax requires B.C. residents to pay a tax of 0.5 per cent on second or vacation homes valued at $400,000 or above if their owners do not rent them out for at least six months of the year, for periods of at least 30 days.
Amendments still need to go to council for final approval.