Airbnb rules in BC

Airbnb Rules in BC, Canada

The legal aspect is probably the most difficult for most Airbnb entrepreneurs. As a host, you need to comply with all the local legislation, as well as keep yourself posted on the latest changes to the rules and laws of your area. Today, we will overview the basic Airbnb rules for British Columbia, covering its regions separately. 

Note that this article should not be considered legal advice, as the legislation may be updated and there might be some details we won’t be able to include today. Make sure to look them up before launching your enterprise, and use this article as a roadmap for further research.

British Columbia’s New Short-Term Rental Regulations

Starting on May 1, 2024, British Columbia is rolling out fresh regulations targeted at the realm of short-term rentals, with a particular emphasis on the principal residence requirement. 

Here’s a distinctive overview of these regulations:

Commencing May 1, 2024, short-term rentals across British Columbia will be bound by a principal residence requirement. Essentially, this requirement stipulates that short-term rentals will be confined to two specific property types:

  • The primary residence of the host.
  • One secondary suite or an accessory dwelling unit (ADU).

It’s essential to emphasize that the principal residence requirement signifies the baseline standard established by the province. Local authorities retain the flexibility to institute more stringent regulations tailored to their unique needs. Additionally, short-term rental hosts must adhere to any supplementary local bylaws currently in effect.

The principal residence requirement extends its jurisdiction to municipalities with populations exceeding 10,000 and their smaller neighboring communities. This includes communities with substantial populations or those situated near larger urban areas.

Several exemptions to the principal residence requirement apply to particular accommodation types. These include strata-titled hotels or motels, time-share properties, home exchanges, fractional ownership properties, lodges catering to outdoor recreational activities, accommodations primarily designated for students and employees of educational institutions or non-profit organizations, and guest suites under strata corporations.

Moreover, several smaller communities and tourist destinations in British Columbia, such as Whistler, are exempt from the principal residence requirement. This exemption also encompasses specific land types, such as farmland, regional district electoral areas, trust areas governed by the Islands Trust Act, and more.

Local authorities retain the ability to “opt-in” to the principal residence requirement by submitting a resolution to the Minister of Housing. However, certain areas, like resort zones or farmlands, have restrictions on altering their exempt status. Special authorities in select areas possess the autonomy to make independent requests.

Read more here: New rules for short-term rentals – Province of British Columbia.

To summarize, these regulations are designed to ensure that short-term rentals in British Columbia adhere to the principal residence requirement, with the added flexibility for local governments to tailor these regulations according to their distinct needs. Exemptions and opt-in provisions serve to enhance the adaptability of these regulations further.


In Victoria, British Columbia, the world of short-term rentals has evolved, and it’s crucial to stay informed about the latest regulations. Let’s explore the key aspects of operating a vacation rental enterprise, including acquiring the necessary licenses and adhering to the rules.

Short-Term Rental Regulation Bylaw

The City of Victoria has adapted its regulations to accommodate eligible short-term rental operators. To be eligible, operators must possess a Short-Term Rental Business License and adhere to the prescribed operating rules.


As of now, you may be eligible to run a short-term rental if:

  • Your short-term rental unit is your principal dwelling unit, which can include the entire unit on occasion or up to two bedrooms within your unit, with shared kitchen and living spaces.
  • You own a unit where transient accommodation was a permitted use, and your property was used for short-term rentals prior to September 2017.

Upcoming Changes – May 1, 2024

It’s worth noting that new provincial regulations, set to take effect on May 1, 2024, will permit short-term rentals exclusively as part of a principal residence. This means that, from that date onward, operating a short-term rental in a non-principal residence, even if you hold a Non-Principal Resident Operator License from the City, will not be allowed.

Important Note on 2024 Business Licenses

Even if you plan to operate your short-term rental only until May 1, 2024, you are required to obtain a 2024 business license. These licenses will not be pro-rated, and partial refunds will not be issued.

Exemptions for Self-Contained Units

It’s important to understand that you are not eligible if your short-term rental unit is a self-contained dwelling unit, such as a secondary or garden suite. However, a tenant may occasionally rent it out with the owner’s permission.

For more detailed eligibility information, you can refer to Schedule D – Home Occupations.

Application for Short-Term Rental Business License

To apply for a short-term rental business license, you can submit a complete application along with supporting documentation to [email protected]. Please note that all Short-Term Rental Business Licenses must be re-applied for annually.

The cost of Short-Term Rental Business Licenses varies depending on the type of unit

  • Principal residence: $150
  • Legal non-conforming units: $1,500

Appeal Process

In the event that your application for a Short-Term Rental Business License is denied, you have the option to request that City Council reconsiders your application. During this process, you will have the opportunity to present your reasons for reconsideration, and Council will decide whether to uphold or deny your appeal.

In conclusion, staying informed about the evolving landscape of short-term rental regulations in Victoria is essential for vacation rental operators. Whether you’re operating from your principal residence or a non-conforming unit, understanding the eligibility criteria and licensing requirements is key to compliance with the latest rules and regulations.

Read more about Short-Term Rentals | City of Victoria.

White Rock

White Rock Zoning Bylaw No.2000 is the most important legal act you should study before becoming an Airbnb host in the city. Its original version has been updated recently, allowing entrepreneurs to launch their businesses more smoothly. You can look up the latest version of the document on the official website of the Corporation of the City of White Rock.

In White Rock, you and your property have to comply with a list of criteria in order to become eligible for the short-term rental operation. According to the document, a short-term rental use shall:

  1. Only be operated from a suite that complies with all the BC Building Code requirements.
  2. Only operated by the owner, who is a full-time resident and occupant of the one-unit residential use.
  3. Only be operated if the owner has designated a person according to all the terms.
  4. Install all the necessary fire safety equipment according to the BC Building Code.
  5. Be limited to a maximum of two sleeping units.
  6. Be limited to no more than four adult guests at any given time.
  7. Have a valid business license and display its number in all the advertising.
  8. The short-term rental may only provide for the temporary accommodation of guests for periods not to exceed thirty (30) days.
  9. The short-term rental must not be occupied by more than one booking or reservation at any given time.

The licensing process in White Rock is very similar to the one we have reviewed for Victoria. The penalties for violations are as follows: $500 for the initial offense, $1,000 for a second offense, and $2,000 for any subsequent offenses.

Keep in mind that starting May 1, 2024, as stated above, British Columbia is implementing new regulations that will impact short-term rentals across the province, including White Rock. These regulations emphasize the principal residence requirement for short-term rentals.


In Whistler, there are stringent guidelines and regulations governing Airbnb and vacation rental properties. Property owners are mandated to obtain a business license to advertise, manage, and offer paid accommodations to tourists, irrespective of whether they manage the property themselves or through a property manager. Failure to possess a valid business license for a vacation rental is considered an illicit nightly rental and may result in financial penalties.

To be eligible for a business license, the property must be officially designated for tourist accommodations. Properties with residential zoning are strictly prohibited from providing tourist accommodations, regardless of the duration of the stay. To advertise and rent a property to tourists, the zoning must expressly permit its use for tourist or temporary accommodation purposes.

Property owners are strongly advised to confirm their property’s zoning and covenants prior to initiating a business license application. The application process entails online submission and may involve fees depending on the type of accommodation being offered. These fees contribute to the funding of efforts aimed at enforcing bylaws to combat illegal nightly rentals.

The municipality actively enforces regulations against unauthorized nightly rentals, with a primary focus on violations related to marketing and advertising. Offenders may be subject to fines of up to $500 per violation. Residents who are concerned about illicit rentals in their neighborhood have the option to file complaints with Bylaw Services.

Whistler is subject to the Provincial Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act, which will introduce new regulations and responsibilities over the next two years. While the community enjoys exemptions from specific aspects of the Act, like the principal residence requirement, property listings must include a valid business license beginning in 2024. Non-compliant listings must be removed from short-term rental platforms upon the request of the RMOW (Resort Municipality of Whistler).Check out Tourist Accommodation Business Licence | Resort Municipality of Whistler.


Richmond has put in place specific guidelines concerning short-term rentals within its jurisdiction. These rentals involve the rental of a portion of a residential unit for overnight accommodation for periods lasting less than 30 consecutive days in exchange for payment. To engage in short-term rental activities in Richmond, property owners are required to go through a registration process with the city and meet specific eligibility criteria based on the type of property they own.

There are two main licensing choices to consider:

Choice 1: Bed and Breakfast (B&B) Business License

  • The dwelling must be an independent single-family home (apartments, duplexes, or townhomes are not suitable).
  • The operator must establish the property as their primary residence.
  • Concurrently, only up to three rooms can be made available for rent.
  • A maximum of six guests are allowed, with no more than two guests per room.
  • New Bed and Breakfast (B&B) establishments must be situated at least 500 meters away from existing B&B rentals.

Choice 2: Boarding and Lodging Business License

  • The property may be in the form of a detached house, duplex, apartment, or townhouse.
  • The operator must be a resident of the property.
  • A maximum of two guests are permitted simultaneously.
  • For properties within strata buildings, obtaining written approval from the strata council is a requirement.
  • Short-term rentals are prohibited in secondary suites, coach houses, or granny flats.
  • Offering separate cooking facilities in guest rooms is not permitted, according to the rules.

In Richmond, strict compliance with city bylaws is crucial for operating short-term rental (STR) properties. Property owners must prominently display their STR license number in all rental advertisements. 

The issuance of a STR business licence hinges on adherence to key city bylaws, including:

These regulations are designed to balance the facilitation of short-term rentals with the preservation of the quality of life in local neighborhoods. Prospective STR operators are required to familiarize themselves with and fulfill all prerequisites before applying for a business licence.

There are two types of licences available: the Bed and Breakfast (B&B) Licence and the Boarding and Lodging Licence, each with its own set of application requirements including personal identification and property plans.

Richmond enforces these regulations stringently, with fines for non-compliance reaching up to $50,000. Residents can report any bylaw concerns via email or a dedicated phone line. It’s essential for those interested in operating STRs in Richmond to consult the official resources for detailed procedures and fee information.


In Burnaby, the legislation also involves a Zoning Bylaw and a Business License Bylaw. In this city, you will be able to rent out your property to up to four visitors at a time. In case they are from the same family, the number of guests you can accept increases to six. While these terms may seem quite mild, the maximum limit of days you can run your enterprise is a little bit disappointing. You will only be able to rent out your property for 90 nights of the year. The number of nights for renting out all of your houses is only 28, which is even more limiting.

The application process in Burnaby is quite straightforward. As with all the other cities, you will need to share an application form with the local authorities. The annual fee for the license is $258.50, and there is a non-refundable application fee of $51.50. There are also many penalties for violations of the Burnaby Business License Bylaw, so it is crucial for a business to comply with it. You can learn more details from the original document of 2017, but make sure to keep yourself posted on the amendments.



Squamish has enacted specific bylaws governing STRs, permitting residents to lease their main homes for periods under 30 days. Rentals in accessory units like secondary suites or coach houses are not allowed. The purpose of these rules is to safeguard the availability of long-term rentals while offering residents a chance to earn supplementary income.

Short Term Rental Licences – District of Squamish

Essential Steps and Requirements for Obtaining an STR Business Licence in Squamish

Mandatory Licence: STR operators are required to have a valid business licence and must include this licence number in all their online advertisements. Failing to do so can lead to a fine of up to $500 for each violation.

Qualification Criteria:

  • Licences are granted only to individuals, not to companies or corporations.
  • The property for rent should be the operator’s main residence.
  • Tenants need the property owner’s approval, and those in strata properties must have the permission of the strata council.

Safety Standards: Operators need to ensure their rentals meet certain safety standards, including providing emergency contact information, creating a fire safety plan, and installing necessary smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Application Procedure:

  • Verify eligibility and fulfil safety standards.
  • Secure permissions from property owners or strata bodies if required.
  • Familiarize oneself with and abide by the STR bylaws and guidelines for advertising.
  • Submit the necessary application forms and documents, such as a business licence application, proof of property ownership, safety checklist, and evidence of your primary residence.

Licensing Fees: The cost varies depending on the rental type and length, with half-price options available for new applications submitted after May 1st.

Licence Renewal and Accurate Records: Licences must be renewed regularly, either annually or monthly, with up-to-date documentation.

Parking Rules: Different types of housing units have specific parking regulations.Temporary Use Permits (TUPs) for Specific Rentals: TUPs are provided for STRs in certain types of dwellings, with distinct eligibility and application requirements.

Read also more about Airbnb Taxes in Vancouver.