VICTORIA B.C. – B.C. Green Party MLA Adam Olsen is renewing the party’s call on the government to regulate the short-term rental market as the housing crisis worsens across the province.
With many communities struggling to house local workers, the short-term rental market is getting out of control in British Columbia. A business license is required to host an Airbnb in Vancouver, but there are only 2,964 business licenses registered in the city, compared to 4,929 active Airbnb listings. This suggests that there are thousands of unlicensed short-term rentals in Vancouver and a lack of regulatory enforcement. These short-term units take away housing opportunities for those living in the city long-term, making the housing market even more difficult to navigate.
“There is a growing tension in the communities that I represent on the Southern Gulf Islands,” said Olsen. “Tourism is a huge part of the economy in B.C. so there’s a need for short-term vacation rentals (SVTR) for visitors. But many units that were previously for long-term rentals have now turned to short-term, and are being rented out for just a few days at a time. We know this loss of workforce housing isn’t the only problem in the housing crisis, but it is an issue that the provincial government has failed to regulate, with dramatic consequences.”
Disruptive rental business models, like STVRs, upended the traditional rental markets when they started. The provincial government didn’t step in and create a regulatory framework for this essential part of the housing market. When the government regulates most of the housing market and then leaves a piece of it unregulated, it has dramatic impacts in communities of all sizes and in all parts of the province.
“Essentially, the provincial government has delegated the regulation and enforcement of short-term rentals to local governments, without giving them effective tools to do the job. A patchwork of inconsistent policy responses have emerged from local governments trying to handle this housing issue,” said Olsen. “They are struggling to deal with it on their own. Through the Union of B.C. Municipalities they have called for the provincial government to regulate and resource enforcement.”
“In May, we called for regulation of the STVR market,” said Olsen. “Today, months later, I am reiterating that the B.C. NDP government needs to establish a provincial registry of STVRs and enable data sharing between local governments, the province, and rental platforms. They need to increase STVR platform accountability by ensuring only registered properties are listed, authorize regional districts to issue business licenses and provide resources for local governments to enforce existing bylaws. It will take the provincial government stepping in to make real change here and bring a fairer housing market to British Columbians”
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