What Exactly is an Airbnb Licence and Do I Need One?
An Airbnb license is basically a ‘business licence’ that allows you to conduct business or list your home for short term rentals legally. Within many countries and individual states, a licence is required to conduct business, and operating without one is illegal and may result in heavy fining.
In Vancouver on September 1st, 2018, city bylaws were introduced requiring all property owners (with hopes of listing their properties) to have a business licence to list within the Airbnb platform. As a result of this many hosts’ listings were effectively deleted, creating a change within the market space.
Who Exactly Needs A Licence?
Whilst each country/state has different laws and regulations surrounding the concept of short-term property listing, it is safe to assume that basically any host must apply for a business licence before listing their property on Airbnb. Using a property management service such as MasterHost helps you to reduce the stress associating with the procedure of acquiring a licence, as they’ll guide you through the process. Read more here.
Short-Term Airbnb Licence Requirements
- The homes must be rented for a period of less than 30 days at a time
- In Vancouver short term rentals can only be operated from the home in which you reside in (your primary residence). Secondary homes/investment properties are not allowed
- All short-term rental hosts must also have a valid business licence and include it on all online advertisements
- Businesses, societies and commercial operations may not operate short term rental properties and it is illegal to attempt to apply for such licence
- If you’re a tenant with the hopes of sub-leasing, you must first obtain a verbal (or preferably written) agreement from your landlord
- Ensure you have the correct strata authorization and signed paperwork ready
- Have working safety procedures, equipment and plans in place. Fire alarms and carbon dioxide monitors are necessary
- Provide reasonable times for inspection
- Provide a 24/7 contact number, mostly used in case of emergencies
- Show *courtesy* and be a good neighbour, get in touch with your nearest neighbours and let them know that you’re going to be listing your home out for short term rentals and listen to any of their concerns.
How Can I Get Started?
After reading through the requirements and seeing that you are eligible to list your property as a host, the next step is to go ahead and apply for your business licence. Currently, the cost for applying for a business license is $58 and a $40 renewal fee for each additional year. Licences expire on December 31st of each year and are not valid for a year from the date of purchase (this is important not to mix up).
Applying online is easy and can be done in a matter of minutes here.
Make sure to have your payment details, contact details and identification ready.
If for some reason you’re unable to sign up using the online form, you can call the support office at 604-873-7000, between 8.30-4.30pm, Monday to Friday.
What Are The Actual Penalties For Operating Without A Licence?
Operating without a licence can be a risky move for quite a few reasons. Firstly, the cost of any ‘fines’ associated with being caught is per offence. This means if you listed 3-4 properties without a licence, you could be fined up to $1000 for each property listed. Besides heavy fines, you may also be stopped from engaging in listing properties again in the near future and applying for a business licence for an extended period of time.
If you forget to list your licence number in any of your online listings, this is also seen as an offence in where you may face fines of up to $1000 per offence (or per online listing). Remembering that business licensing and laws may be tricky and subject to change at any time, the best move would be to hire a team of professionals to take care of all of your concerns.
More about Airbnb rules in British Columbia here.