Airbnb 101: Navigating BC’s new short-term rental rules

Airbnb 101: Navigating BC’s new short-term rental rules

Unless you’ve been living in Antarctica for the past six months, you’ve probably heard about the provincial government’s recent changes to the rules governing short-term rental platforms, like VRBO and Airbnb.

The new rules are likely to have a major impact on homeowners, homebuyers, renters and real estate investors across the province. But as we’ve been talking with our clients about the changes, we’ve discovered that many people still aren’t completely clear on what the new rules are, or how they will affect them.

So let’s break the new short-term rental rules down, and take a closer look at exactly what those changes are, why they were introduced—and what they might mean for you!

What’s new

In the past, the regulations surrounding the short-term rental market in B.C. were murky at best. As a result, many homeowners and investors used sites like Airbnb to list everything from a small room in their own home to entire portfolios of self-contained suites.

The new rules, which came into effect on May 1st of this year, changed all that by restricting short-term rentals only to primary residences, and up to one other secondary suite or “accessory dwelling” (such as a laneway or carriage house) on the same property.

This means that, as of this month, anyone living in B.C. can no longer use Airbnb or its sister sites to rent out standalone housing short-term. This includes properties ranging from second homes to investment properties and custom-built rental condos and apartments.

Why the changes were made

The Government introduced the new rules to help address the housing crisis in B.C. by moving more homes and apartments out of the short-term market, and making them available to traditional long-term tenants or buyers.

Supporters of the changes estimate that short-term rentals have been taking more than 16,000 homes out of B.C.’s rental housing stock each year. They also say the new rules are an overdue effort that will help relieve the province’s notoriously tight vacancy rates, and make rental housing more affordable for British Columbians.

Critics, on the other hand, claim the rule changes were introduced without enough advance warning. They also feel the changes will penalize families, investors and mom-and-pop operators who rely on short-term rentals to help pay their mortgage, fund their retirement or simply make ends meet.

What you need to know

The new rules apply to 65 different communities across B.C. that have populations of 10,000 or more, or which are close to a larger town or city. The only exceptions are a few designated smaller communities, farms, areas that fall under the Islands Trust Act, and several of the province’s main tourist destinations, such as ski resorts and resorts in B.C. Parks.

Short-term rental hosts in the affected communities will also have to take out a valid business licence, and the rental platforms themselves will be required to share information about their users with the provincial government.


If you currently host any properties on Airbnb, VRBO or any other short-term rental sites—or if you’re planning to buy an investment property with an eye towards using it as a short-term rental—you should be aware that the penalties for not following the new rules could cost you between $1,000 to $3,000 per day, plus another $2,000 to $50,000 for any bylaw offences.

So if you’re not sure if the rules apply to your property, contact us for a quick conversation to find out how these changes could affect you and your family’s financial plans.

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