Skip to content

Short-term-rental-unit owners file lawsuit against province and City of Victoria

Enforcement against short-term units is to start May 1. New law bans most short-term rentals that are not part of an owner’s principal residence.
Many of the units in the Janion building are microsuites. GOOGLE STREET VIEW

An organization representing short-term-rental-unit owners announced Thursday that it has filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court against the province and the City of Victoria in a last-minute bid to preserve their operations.

The West Coast Association for Property Rights went to court after the province announced it would ban most short-term rentals that are not an owner’s principal residence in order to free up these units for the housing market. It is one of several initiatives from the province to tackle the housing shortage.

Enforcement against non-complying short-term units is set to start May 1.

“We believe the provincial government has overstepped their legal authority in imposing legislation that negatively impacts licensed and lawfully operating businesses and property owners,” said Orion Rodgers, president of the association, which also goes by the name Property Rights B.C.

“We have listened to the concerns from our affected members and other stakeholders and support them and their decision to bring legal action against this unjust act.”

The petition to the court aims to preserve previous rights to own and operate legal short-term rental units, the group said.

It is seeking paid compensation if the province proceeds with its plans to reduce the number of short-term rentals, which are advertised online through organizations such as Airbnb.

The group is asking for enforcement by the province and the city to be delayed, at least until the issue is decided by the courts.

Comment was not immediately available Thursday afternoon from the province or City of Victoria.

The property rights group said the new Short Term Rental Accommodations Act infringes on “vested rights.”

Owners of short-term rental units have been fighting against the new legislation for months, saying it was brought in without consultation.

Those who have tried to sell their units have said there’s a glut on the market, making sales difficult. They said many owners only have one or two units and rely on the properties as retirement investments and for income.

Many of the units are in downtown Victoria in buildings such as the Janion and the Falls. When purchasers bought the units, they were allowed to rent them to the short-term market.

Property Rights B.C. represents owners, property managers and consumers and said the group supports the tourism sector and “broader accommodation ecosystem.”

The group maintains that short-term rentals advertised online have brought tens of millions of dollars in revenue into B.C. It argues that reducing the amount of accommodation available will push up travelling costs.

[email protected]

>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: [email protected]