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Short term rental regulation changes don’t help long term market: councillor

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
September 3rd, 2018

Despite changes to the city’s short-term rental regulations they miss the mark and do not protect Nelson’s dwindling long-term rental stock, says one city councillor.

Michael Dailly questioned how changes to the city regulations pertaining to short-term rentals — not allowing a guest house to advertise for more than 182 days in a calendar year — would help put more homes for long-term rent back in a market that has less than one per cent vacancy.

The city recently introduced several policy changes to the short term rental regulations one year after it first instituted them.

But Dailly did not think one of the policy changes — having a 182-day designation — did enough to halt the creation of short term rentals and create long-term rental stock in the city.

“Someone could have a house and make enough in 182 days, and maybe abit more, than if they were renting it long term and that might impact our long-term rental stock,” he said. “How are we going to stop that?”

City planner Alex Thumm said that the bylaw amendments to the shortterm rental regulations did not take into account their effect on the rental market.

He said if a homeowner obtains a business licence successfully and meets the principal residency requirement — that they have claimed the homeowner grant for the house — the city is not looking at the situation any closer.

“But you do have direction to not reduce the number of long-termrentals by having regulations that don’t impact,” them, said Dailly.

City manager Kevin Cormack said the city was trying to find a balancebetween short-and-long term rentals.

There were going to be short term rentals offered in the city, he continued, but the regulations limit the scenario in Nelson where people are buying homes with the specific aim to turn them into mini hotels.

In deeming that a guest home may not be advertised for more than 182 days in a year the purpose of the regulation was to have more clarity around the principal residency requirement, said Thumm.

The city had received a number of complaints about people who have — despite showing proof of principal residence — do not live at the residence at all, he added.

“And they say they are running a (short-term rental) on a full timebasis,” Thumm said. “But if you are meeting the principal residency requirement this should not be the case.”

People can only claim the homeowner grant on one home in B.C., and itmeans that is where you live your daily life, Thumm explained.

The policy changes passed the first three readings, but no publichearing will be held.

Policy changes contained in the amendments:

  1. Remove the $30 inspection fee;
  2. Remove the $500 deposit requirement;
  3. Remove the Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism membership requirement in light of the upcoming application of the two per cent “tourism tax” (MRDT);
  4. Secondary suites used for STR: apply a utility fee instead of withholding the 75 per cent utility discount, effectively reversing the discount;
  5. Replace summer-only licences with four-month licences (accompanied by a stricter residency requirement: the dwelling unit must be occupied 50 per cent or more of the year by the owner or long-term tenants);
  6. Staff may waive parking requirement under extenuating circumstances;
  7. Guest home may not be advertised for more than 182 days per year;
  8. Building official can waive inspection requirement if full inspection was recently conducted;
  9. Allow up to two 31-day licences per year (current maximum is one);
  10. Applications made Aug. 1-on: prorate at 50 per cent; and
  11. Reserve right to request booking records directly from listing platforms.

— Source: City of Nelson

By the numbers

“The new fee for short term rental (STR) guest suites will ensure that council’s direction that only long term rentals receive the benefit of the 75 per cent reduction in the secondary suite fee is achieved while simplifying the administrative billing method.”

During the public consultation process of the review of STR regulations, STR operators provided comment that the STR fees were high. To address this, the fee for the building inspection and the STR deposit have been removed, noted Thumm.

The new fee for market appraisals will ensure that costs are recovered.

— Source: City of Nelson


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