What qualifies as a short-term rental in the City of Victoria?
Renting a property for a period of fewer than 30 days qualifies a rental as short-term. This time period applies to both entire homes and units, as well as a room within a home or unit.
What qualifies a dwelling to permit short-term rental use?
Short-term rental use permissibility varies based on a number of factors. Municipal-specific regulations primarily govern the use of dwellings for short-term rental purposes. For condominium or strata buildings, additional site-specific bylaws govern what - if any - rental restrictions are placed on strata lots within a particular building. These guiding efforts have been implemented so that residents can earn supplemental income, while sustainably minding the population-level need to protect long-term rental housing requirements for all residents.
Do I need a business licence to operate a short-term rental?
Yes. While there are several requirements to operate a short-term rental in the City of Victoria, a business licence is mandatory and must be obtained in order to operate a short-term rental in the City of Victoria. Doing so without one can result in hefty fines. Furthermore, falsifying information on an application for a short-term rental license can result in its subsequent suspension if the license was obtained under false pretenses.
Are short-term rentals allowed in strata units?
Short-term rental use is permitted for a strata lot if
a) the current bylaws of the building in which an owner’s principal residence strata unit is in expressly permit short-term rental use of its units; or
b) the unit is a legally non-confirming one where transient accommodation was a previously permitted use. Changes to the City of Victoria Zoning Bylaw in recent years now prohibit residential units where “transient accommodation” was a permitted use in zoning from being used as a short-term rental. Properties, however, may be legally non-conforming for this purpose if they have been operated as a short-term rental in a transient accommodation zone prior to the zoning changes.
What is transient accommodation?
Transient accommodation was a use in the City of Victoria Zoning Bylaw defined as areas allowing hotels, motels, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfast accommodation. In September 2017, this definition changed to include only hotels and motels. If transient accommodation was a permitted use for a property prior to the 2017 zoning changes, then it may be considered legally non-conforming and still permit short-term rental uses today.
What are non-conforming units?
Building bylaws regulate the use of a strata property and its residents’ behaviour. Bylaws can cover issues including smoking, parking, noise, pets, and - notably - the use of strata lots for short-term rental purposes. The Local Government Act in BC provides that a property may continue to be used for an activity subsequently made unpermitted or regulated after a restrictive bylaw is enacted, so long as its initial use was lawful in nature. Legal non-conforming use may continue with a property unless such use is discontinued for six continuous months. The Local Government Act further stipulates that the whole of a building shall have this right to legal non-conforming use where a unit or section of the building is designated legal non-conforming, unless such use is discontinued throughout the whole building for six continuous months.
How do I know if a unit is considered legal non-conforming?
The City of Victoria will confirm the legal non-conforming status of a property at the time they receive a business licence application. Owners applying for this business license must include proof of qualification in their application.
Am I required to inform my strata management corporation when operating a short-term rental?
Owners in buildings that have strata bylaws that expressly permit for the units of a building to be used for short-term rental use must have approval from their strata. If you are a long-term renter of a unit in such a building and wish to rent out your rental unit on a short-term basis, you must further have the approval of your landlord to use your rented unit. Strata permission as well as landlord approval, if applicable, must be obtained prior to applying for a short-term rental use business license with the City of Victoria.
What can happen if I do not inform my strata management corporation of operating a short-term rental in my primary residence?
Strata bylaws are enforceable. Renting a unit for a short-term period in a building that does not allow short-term rentals of units can result in hefty fines. It is imperative to check the individual building bylaws and rules before renting any unit for short-term use.
Are renters allowed to operate short-term rentals in their rented units?
If the principal dwelling unit of a renter has permission from the owner of the property and their strata, they may operate a short-term rental of up to two bedrooms within their unit if that use meets the short-term rental unit requirements of the City of Victoria.