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Over 1,000 short-term rentals to come off the market in the Central Okanagan this week

Provincial regulations, stricter Kelowna bylaws target unlicensed operators
Provincial regulations which come into effect tomorrow limit short-term rentals to a host's principal residence.

New rules pertaining to short-term rentals in B.C. come into effect Wednesday, meaning tens of thousands of listings on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO not conforming with the new regulations will begin to disappear.

One of those regulations is a requirement for all legally licensed short-term rentals to display their business license number as part of their listing.

The only way to get that license is to comply with new regulations brought in by the province and anything a city may bring in over-and-above the provincial legislation, as Kelowna has done.

The provincial regulations which come into effect tomorrow limit short-term rentals to a host's principal residence.

Kelowna has gone a step further, basically eliminating STRs from single and multi-family homes except for those with a valid business license.

While West Kelowna stayed the course in adopting the provincial regulations requiring STRs in principal residences only, it did make an exception for tourist and resort zones such as Seclusion Bay, Barona Beach, the Cove, Casa Loma Resort, Boucherie Beach Cottage, Paradise Escapes and 3060 Seclusion Bay.

Because West Kelowna has a vacancy rate above three per cent it is able to allow short-term rentals in those areas.

The new regulations, specifically enforcement, is good news for both cities, say municipal staff.

While the new regulations won't change the day-to-day operations in West Kelowna, planning manager Brent Magnan says the business license requirement is a big win.

License requirement big win

"Having the requirement for platforms to have the providers put their business license numbers on there is a huge step for us because we will be able to look at those business licenses online and determine who is licensed and who is unlicensed," said Magnan.

"We would communicate that with the platforms and also the hosts. We will be able to reach out to the hosts to let them know what our requirements are and what they will have to do to legalize their operation in order to get back onto those platforms."

It's also a boost for enforcement, which until now, has been left solely to the city.

"It definitely takes some of the burden off our staff. Having the accountability to the platforms and having the city being able to correspond directly to those individuals is a big help.

"The provincial enforcement team will certainly help."

Magnan says the new bylaws adopted by council will reduce a lot of the grey areas.

"I think it will be a lot easier to administer the program now because it is more clear, we have more support and we have some other people helping us, namely the province."

About 250 short-term rentals are licensed within West Kelowna with another 30 or so unlicensed the city is working with to become compliant.

Another 500 to 600 are unlicensed and face banishment from platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO.

Listing drop in Kelowna

In Kelowna, planning director Ryan Smith says the number of both licensed and unlicensed STRs in the city have diminished somewhat since legislation was first announced.

Smith says about 470 are licensed, down from nearly 500 a few months ago.

"There was a big drop in Kelowna after the new legislation came in. Even last fall there was a big drop," said Smith.

"Kelowna was one of the markets where it appeared that the new policy was already having a positive impact."

Like in West Kelowna and likely the rest of the province, Smith says the province will enforce their rules but adds where Kelowna regulates "over-and-above the provincial rules," the city will be responsible for enforcement.

"If you don't have a business license, you will be removed," he says.

"We would be contacting the province who would contact the platforms or we could contact them directly."

As with any new bylaws, Smith says staff will monitor the impacts and report back to council.

"It may be that pieces of this don't work and we have to go back and tweak our own rules."