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Providing rentals ‘not my job’ says Kelowna homeowner

A report presented to city council last week outlined proposed regulations that would limit a homeowner's control over short term rentals, such as Airbnb and VRBO, in Kelowna.

New regulations in Vancouver and Victoria have banned short term rentals in secondary suites, carriage houses and investment properties, leaving only rooms in an owner's principal residence available for rent.

Kelowna is now considering similar regulations, that city planners contend will help increase available long term rental units and protect "traditional accommodation" providers.

<who> Photo Credit: KelownaNow.

However, at least one Kelowna homeowner argues regulating short term rentals is fine, but it shouldn't be a homeowner’s responsibility to provide for the city’s rental pool.

Dan, whose full name has been left out for anonymity, operated an Airbnb after asking permission from surrounding neighbours. His rental successfully ran a busy schedule over a ten month period with not one complaint being registered.

That ended when a displeased guest, who had been denied a request to stay an additional night, reported the short term rental to the city, who quickly shut down the rental suite.

Dan and his wife were hit with a $500 fine, a cease and desist order, as well as the warning of a $10,000 fine for each day they were non-compliant.

“Why push it back to a single family owner trying to make the most out of their house?” asks Dan.

“It’s not my job as a homeowner to provide for the rental pool, that should be on the city and its developers who are creating these homes that are too expensive to rent.”

<who> Photo Credit: Airbnb.

Since being shut down, the secondary suite has been filled by renters from Australia looking to spend a summer in Kelowna in between seasons at Big White.

“We consider ourselves lucky because we have respectful renters and charge a good rate, but it’s just by chance, with the fixed term lease regulations renting is a dangerous game,” says Dan.

“I can't rent the suite for less than 30 days and if I rent it for over 30 days I lose the power to immediately remove the tenant, unless if they don’t pay rent or destroy the place.”

One goal behind regulating short term rentals is putting the over 1,000 properties currently advertised on sites like Airbnb on the city’s books.

However, if the licensing process is similar to what’s needed for running a Bed and Breakfast, many homeowners could be deterred from licensing.

<who> Photo Credit: File Photo.

“The new regulations don't appear to be much of change, you can already rent out rooms that you are occupying by calling it a Bed and Breakfast,” says Dan.

“Although a Bed and Breakfast license is difficult to get, if the licensing regulations are similar, I think it would be a struggle for many short term rental operations to get approved.”

From his experience, Dan believes a regulation ensuring the residence is “owner occupied,” meaning the property owner is on site, should be implemented to avoid housing speculation and issues with poorly behaved guests.

City staff studied Kelowna's short term rental market and found that last November 1,158 properties were advertised for rent, with an average nightly rate of $190.

Unless reported, those homeowners should be ok however, as regulations aren't expected to be implemented before late fall.

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