New rules take shape for Short Term Rentals in Vancouver, Whistler & Richmond

Websites including AirBnB, VRBO, HomeAway, and Craigslist reveal thousands of short-term rentals (STRs) throughout Metro Vancouver.

To protect their long-term rental housing supply, municipalities are regulating STRs.

An STR is a rental accommodation on a residentially zoned property for a period of less than 30 days, excluding bed and breakfast (B&B) operations.

Here are the most recent initiatives of Richmond, Whistler, and Vancouver.


After receiving over 100 complaints from residents about noise, traffic, land-use violations, and strangers coming and going at all hours to hotel-like operations, Richmond staff investigated, finding 1,586 STRs listed on rental websites.

In January 2017, a staff report recommended regulating STRs. Richmond city council unanimously voted to ban STRs of less than 30 days, including secondary suites and laneway homes, with an exception for licensed B&Bs.

In March, 2017, Richmond council approved recommendations to amend bylaws and licensing requirements that permit short and long-term rentals in residential zones with the following conditions:

lodging/ boarding is limited to two guests. The operator must reside in the home;
single-family homes must be licensed B&B operations and owner-operators (can include spouses and children of the property owner), must live in the home full time. B&B licenses allow rental of up to three bedrooms at a time with a maximum of two guests per room for 30 days or less; and
“agri-tourism” accommodations in agricultural zones will now require site-specific rezoning.

Richmond doesn't permit the short-term rental of entire dwelling units (single-family homes or multi-family units) for 30 days or less.

B&Bs are not permitted in dwellings that already have a secondary suite, coach house, “granny” flat, or with existing lodging.
Violators can be fined up to $1,000 per day per offence.

Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW)
RMOW passed a bylaw on July 18, 2017 to prevent illegal overnight rentals in residential neighbourhoods zoned RS, RM, RR, and RSE.

Rentals of less than four consecutive weeks are not permitted. 

The new rules will:

maximize the availability of residential accommodations for Whistler’s housing needs; and
direct visitor rentals to the large number of properties within Whistler zoned for this purpose, such as Whistler Village.
Property owners with STRs should review if land use regulations for the property, as outlined in their land use contract or in the zoning, permit temporary tourist accommodation use.

If a property is within a zone that permits nightly rentals, the property owner must get an annual $165 business license. Violators face fines of $1,000 per day.

The City of Vancouver has proposed new rules for STRs that would legalize:

up to 70 per cent of existing ‘entire unit’ (the whole home); and most ‘private room’ STR listings in Vancouver.

Mayor Gregor Robertson estimates this will bring more than 1,000 rental homes onto the market, easing the 0.8 per cent vacancy rate.

Home owners and renters (with the owner's permission) will be required to buy an annual $49 business license and a one-time $54 activation fee.
STR operators must comply with building safety, neighbourhood fit, and STR advertising and booking requirements.
STR operators must list their business license number on site, and STR websites will only list STRs with valid business licenses.

Not permitted
STRs in secondary residences (non-principal residences), in legal secondary suites or laneway homes which aren't principal residences, or illegal secondary suits.

STR operators, and websites advertising them, will be required to pay provincial sales tax and federal income tax.

STR websites will pay a transaction fee up to three per cent to Vancouver to help fund the administration and enforcement of licensing STRs.

Where to from here
Vancouver will host a public hearing this fall. New rules will be ready for enactment by April 2018


A new custodian for the Wing Sang

Janette Fricker