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.
From the legal point of view, the main aspect of leading a vacation rental enterprise relates to acquiring the Short-Term Rental Business License. You will need to obtain it either in case the property is your principal residency or in case it is a non-conforming unit with permission for accommodation purposes. Self-containing dwelling suites are not eligible for this license.
To apply for it, you will need to fill out the application form and send it to the Legislative & Regulatory Services Department. For principal residences, the license costs $150, while for other types of eligible property, it is $1,500. The fee is to be paid annually.
Obtaining this license is crucial, as there are retroactive fines applied for all the offending entrepreneurs. For operation, the fee is $500 per day, while for advertising without a license, you will be charged $250 per day. For more details about opening a short-term rental business in Victoria, feel free to read the brochure issued by Bylaw and Licensing Services.
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 smoother. 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:
- Only be operated from a suite that complies with all the BC Building Code requirements.
- Only operated by the owner, who is a full-time resident and occupant of the one-unit residential use.
- Only be operated if the owner has designated a person according to all the terms.
- Install all the necessary fire safety equipment according to the BC Building Code.
- Be limited to a maximum of two sleeping units.
- Be limited to not more than four adult guests at any given time.
- Have a valid business license and display its number in all the advertising.
The licensing process in White Rock is very similar to the one we have reviewed for Victoria. The fees are the same, meaning you will be charged $500 per day for operating without a business license and $250 per day for advertising without one in White Rock.
For Airbnb entrepreneurs who wish to take action in the city of Whistler, the most important document to take into account is the Tourist Accommodation Regulation Bylaw issued by the Resort Municipality of Whistler. It dictates that no person is eligible to carry on tourist accommodation business without a corresponding license. Marketing without a license is also prohibited for such businesses.
The process of obtaining such a license is very similar to the previous cities we have reviewed. It will be necessary for the entrepreneur to fill out the application form and apply it to the corresponding authority. Note that if your application has been declined, you will be able to object and ask the authorities to reconsider it.
With Richmond, the legislation is a bit trickier than in the previous cities. First of all, here, Bed and Breakfasts and Boarding/lodging are two separate types of business. For B&Bs, you will need to obtain a license issued by the city’s authorities. To apply for such a license, you will need to visit Richmond City Hall or find an application form on the official website of the city. For filling out the application form, you will need to share the following information:
- a document that would prove your residency;
- floor plans of the property;
- safety exit routes plans;
- site plan;
- samples of notification letters you will send out to your neighbors.
There also are some terms you would need to comply with to open a B&B business in Richmond. For example, there should be a buffer of 500 meters between such enterprises in the city. Your property must also be a single-family house that is the principal residency of the owner. You will only be able to rent out three rooms with up to two guests in each at the same time. Last but not least, it is necessary to notify all the neighbors that your property will be used for short-term rental business.
With boarding and lodging enterprises, things are a bit easier. The legislation applies to properties that are rented out to not more than two people at a time and allows operation without a license. It is also important to know that renting out an entire dwelling unit is only allowed for more than 30 days.
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 initial fee for the license is $250, which makes it valid for a year. The renewal fee is also $250. 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 with the amendments.
The two most essential documents to take into account before launching a short-term rental business in Squamish are Bylaw No. 2695 and Bylaw No. 2696. They contain amendments to the District of Squamish Zoning Bylaw and the District of Squamish Zoning Bylaw correspondingly. The amendments make the original laws more intuitive by deleting many unnecessary definitions and adding some specifications to the original statements.
Of course, the original documents should also be taken into consideration. The rules stated there are very similar to the ones we have already described for the previous cities. The license application process is almost exactly the same, the only difference being the authority you will need to submit it to.
Read also more about Airbnb Taxes in Vancouver.