As of 2023, the landscape of short-term rentals, including those facilitated through platforms like Airbnb, in Vancouver has evolved significantly. The city has taken steps to strike a balance between supporting the sharing economy and ensuring the availability of long-term rental housing for residents. Here’s an in-depth overview of the current regulations surrounding short-term rentals in Vancouver.
Licensing Requirements and Renewals
Short-term rentals are legal in Vancouver, but hosts must obtain a license from the city before listing their properties for short-term stays. To qualify for a license, the property must be a primary residence, meaning the host lives there for most of the year. Secondary properties or investment properties are not eligible for short-term rental licenses.
Hosts with valid short-term rental licenses are required to renew their licenses every year to continue operating legally. It is essential to ensure timely renewal to avoid any disruptions in hosting activities. The renewal process is straightforward and can be completed through the city’s official website or the appropriate licensing department.
Learn more about Short-term rental business licence.
Short-term Rental Licensing Fees
As of 2023, the licensing fee for short-term rental businesses in Vancouver is $109. This fee is subject to change, and hosts are advised to check the city’s official website for the most up-to-date fee schedule.
Hosts must be aware of the renewal deadlines and any associated penalties for late renewals. For late renewals, a fee of $40 will be added to the standard licensing fee. To renew the license, hosts will need their account number, which is usually provided on the renewal notice distributed by the city in December.
Updating Online Listings
Once hosts have successfully renewed their short-term rental license, it is essential to update all their online listings with the new license number. This step is crucial for compliance and transparency, as it informs potential guests that the property is legally authorized for short-term stays.
Hosts should log in to their Airbnb account or any other online platform where they list their property and edit the property’s information to include the updated license number. Ensuring that all listings are accurate and up-to-date helps hosts maintain a positive reputation and fosters trust among potential guests.
Benefits of Regulation
The regulation of short-term rentals in Vancouver has various benefits for both hosts and the city. For hosts, obtaining a license offers legal protection and peace of mind, as they are assured of operating within the bounds of the law. Additionally, having clear regulations fosters a sense of trust among potential guests, leading to increased bookings and revenues for hosts.
On the city’s side, regulating short-term rentals helps in tracking the number of hosts, ensuring tax compliance, and addressing any potential issues related to housing availability and affordability. It also contributes to a more transparent and accountable short-term rental market.
Short-term Rental Limits
Hosts with valid short-term rental licenses are permitted to rent out their primary residence for short-term stays throughout the year. There are no specific limits on the number of days a host can rent out their property, as long as it remains their primary residence and they comply with all other licensing conditions.
This lack of strict rental limits allows hosts to have the flexibility to make their properties available for short-term stays when they are away or have extra space. It also enables tourists and business travelers to find a wide range of accommodations across Vancouver, contributing to a vibrant tourism industry.
Monitoring and Compliance
The City of Vancouver takes compliance with short-term rental regulations seriously. While there are no routine inspections, the city may conduct occasional audits to verify that hosts are indeed using their properties as their primary residences. Failure to comply with the regulations may result in fines or the revocation of the short-term rental license.
To ensure smooth compliance, hosts are advised to maintain accurate records, such as utility bills, driver’s licenses, and tax documents, which demonstrate that the property is indeed their primary residence. This evidence can be crucial in case of an audit or if the city requests additional verification.
Hosts operating short-term rentals in Vancouver are responsible for reporting their rental income to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for income tax purposes. Airbnb has agreed to collect and remit Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) directly from guests, relieving hosts of this responsibility.
The agreement with Airbnb simplifies tax compliance for hosts, as the platform handles the remittance of these taxes directly to the appropriate authorities. However, it is essential for hosts to keep accurate records of their rental income for tax reporting purposes and to be aware of any changes in tax regulations that may affect their responsibilities.
Read more about the fact that AirBnB Now Charges Tax in Vancouver.
Impact on the Housing Market
The rapid growth of short-term rentals, particularly through online platforms like Airbnb, has raised concerns about its impact on the long-term rental housing market in Vancouver. Critics argue that the availability of properties for short-term rentals reduces the supply of long-term rental units, leading to higher rents and decreased housing affordability for residents.
In response to these concerns, the City of Vancouver has implemented the Empty Homes Tax to address the issue of properties remaining vacant for extended periods due to short-term rentals. The Empty Homes Tax is aimed at encouraging long-term rentals and discouraging properties from sitting empty, contributing to the city’s housing affordability goals.
To determine if a property is subject to the Empty Homes Tax, Vancouver homeowners are required to submit a declaration each year. The declaration allows the city to assess whether a property was vacant for a significant portion of the year and whether it was used for short-term rentals.
Homeowners must accurately declare their property’s occupancy status for the designated reference year. Failure to submit the declaration by the specified deadline may result in penalties and additional scrutiny from the city.
Empty Homes Tax Rate
Properties that are deemed or declared empty in the reference year will be subject to the Empty Homes Tax. As of the 2022 reference year, the tax rate for vacant properties is set at 3% of the property’s assessed taxable value.
The 3% tax is calculated based on the property’s assessed value for the reference year and is payable by the property owner. The Empty Homes Tax is an additional financial incentive for homeowners to consider long-term rentals or to occupy their properties rather than keeping them vacant or utilizing them solely for short-term rentals.
Effectiveness and Housing Goals
Since its implementation, the Empty Homes Tax has shown some success in encouraging more properties to be used for long-term rentals, thereby increasing the availability of rental housing in Vancouver. The tax has also been instrumental in reducing the number of vacant properties, contributing to the city’s efforts to address housing affordability and availability.
Monitoring and Enforcement
The City of Vancouver employs various methods to monitor and enforce compliance with the Empty Homes Tax. These include cross-referencing property records with short-term rental listings, conducting audits, and encouraging public reporting of potentially vacant properties.
Homeowners are encouraged to keep accurate records of their property’s occupancy status and any rental activities to demonstrate compliance with the tax regulations. By proactively reporting on their property’s status and adhering to the Empty Homes Tax requirements, homeowners can avoid penalties and contribute positively to the city’s housing goals.
Striking a Balance
The regulations surrounding short-term rentals in Vancouver aim to strike a balance between supporting the sharing economy and addressing housing affordability concerns. By allowing short-term rentals of primary residences and implementing taxes to encourage long-term rentals, the city aims to ensure that the benefits of short-term rentals contribute positively to the local economy while also preserving the availability of long-term rental housing options for residents.
Short-Term Rental Future Outlook
As the sharing economy continues to evolve and the demand for short-term rentals remains strong, the City of Vancouver may periodically review and update its regulations to adapt to changing market dynamics. Hosts and potential guests are encouraged to stay informed about any updates or changes to the regulations by referring directly to the official City of Vancouver website or relevant government authorities.
As of 2023, Vancouver has established clear regulations for short-term rentals, allowing hosts to legally rent out their primary residences for short stays. Obtaining a short-term rental license, reporting income to the CRA, and complying with the Empty Homes Tax are essential steps for hosts to operate legally and responsibly. The city’s approach to regulation aims to balance the benefits of the sharing economy with the need for long-term rental housing for residents.
Regulations are subject to change, and staying informed is key to successful participation in the short-term rental market in Vancouver. Hosts, guests, and stakeholders can look forward to a dynamic and well-regulated short-term rental landscape in the city, where responsible hosting contributes positively to the local economy and enriches the travel experience for visitors.