New rules for short-term rentals
B.C.'s Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act
The number of short-term rentals (which may include, for example, rentals listed on Airbnb, VRBO, Expedia and FlipKey) have expanded rapidly over recent years, in B.C. and around the world.
Data shows that short-term rentals are diverting thousands of long-term rentals onto the short-term market in B.C., taking away homes people need.
Like many jurisdictions around the world, B.C. is responding to this growing challenge by taking action to regulate short-term rentals and return homes back to the long-term rental market.
In addition to the information on this page, please also see the October 16, 2023, Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act news release, backgrounders, and technical briefing presentation.
- News release translations are available in: Arabic (pdf 298 KB), Japanese (pdf 488 KB) Korean (pdf 258 KB), Persian (Farsi) (pdf 275 KB) and Vietnamese (pdf 215 KB)
- News release and backgrounder translations are available in: French (pdf 293 KB), Chinese simplified (pdf 627 KB), Chinese traditional (pdf 740 KB), Hindi (pdf 182 KB), Punjabi (pdf 322 KB) and Tagalog (pdf 246 KB)
Page updated: October 20, 2023
On this page:
- Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act
- Strengthening local government tools to enforce short-term rental bylaws
- Returning short-term rental units to the long-term market
- Establishing Provincial oversight of short-term rentals
- Short-term rentals versus tenancies
B.C. is facing a housing crisis, with a shortage of all forms of attainable housing, including long-term rentals.
The rise of short-term rental of entire homes is taking away much needed homes for British Columbians. More than 16,000 entire homes are being used as short-term rentals for the majority of the year in B.C. This is making it more challenging to find affordable long-term rentals.
Many local governments have taken action to regulate short-term rentals, but enforcement of bylaws is a challenge, and they have asked the Province for more tools and resources.
The purpose of the new rules is to:
- Give local governments stronger tools to enforce short-term rental bylaws
- Return short-term rental units to the long-term rental market
- Establish a new Provincial role in the regulation of short-term rentals
The new rules apply to all short-term rentals being offered to the public including:
- Offers hosted by a platform, where people reserve and pay for the rental service (which may include for example, Airbnb, VRBO, Expedia, and FlipKey)
- Offers on other web listing forums (which may include for example, Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji, and Craigslist)
- Offers in classified ads in newspapers
The new rules will not apply to:
- Reserve lands
- Nisga’a Lands or the Treaty Lands of a Treaty First Nation (unless the Nation chooses to opt into all or part of the legislation through a coordination agreement with the Province)
- Hotels, motels
Some of these new rules, like the ability of regional districts to issue business licenses and increase maximum penalties, will take effect immediately. Other changes, like the Province's principal residence requirement and registration system will come later.
The maximum fine that regional districts can set for prosecutions of bylaw offences under the Offence Act will increase from $2,000 to $50,000. This is consistent with the maximum fines for municipalities under the Community Charter.
The Province also intends to increase the maximum municipal ticketing fine a local government may issue. These maximum fines could then be applied in:
- Regional districts
- Islands Trust
Regional districts will be able to regulate and license short-term rentals and other businesses, in similar ways to municipalities. This proposed change comes from amendments to the Local Government Act.
Some local governments require a business license for a host to operate a short-term rental. In areas where a business license is required, short-term rental hosts will be required to display a valid business license number on their listing.
If a listing does not include a valid business license, where a business license is required by the local government, the short-term rental platform must remove the listing at the request of the local government.
Local governments have been challenged with getting the data they need for bylaw enforcement. Under the new rules, short-term rental platforms will be required to share information about short-term listings with the Province. The Province can then share this information with local governments.
The Province will keep the short-term rental information confidential and will not disclose it to the public.
The Province is implementing a provincial principal residence requirement which will limit short-term rentals to:
The principal resident requirement will apply province-wide in municipalities with a population of 10,000 and over (and adjacent communities). Future regulations are anticipated to set out areas or types of accommodation that will be exempt from the principal resident requirement including:
- The 14 Resort Municipalities
- Most municipalities under 10,000 population (except those adjacent to larger municipalities)
- Regional district electoral areas
- Mountain Resort Areas and Designated Resort Regions
- Islands Trust
- Agri-tourism accommodations
In exempt areas, local governments can request to “opt in” to the principal residence requirement. There will also be a process for communities with a higher vacancy rate to request to "opt out” of the principal residence requirement.
The Province's principal residence requirement would function as a “floor” meaning that local governments will still be able to have more restrictive bylaws depending on local needs, as many have already chosen to do. Short-term rental hosts will continue to be required to follow local bylaws in place.
List of communities where the principal residence requirement will apply
Below is the list of communities where the principal residence requirement will apply; the communities listed either have a population of more than 10,000 people or are adjacent to larger communities.
There will be a process for the communities listed below with a higher vacancy rate to request to "opt out" of the principal residence requirement.
Communities currently exempted from the principal residence requirement and not listed below may also be added, if a local government requests to join or “opt in” to the principal residence requirement.
- Campbell River
- Central Saanich
- Dawson Creek
- Fort. St. John
- Lake Country
- Langley (City)
- Langley (Township)
- Maple Ridge
- New Westminster
- North Cowichan
- North Saanich
- North Vancouver (City)
- North Vancouver (District)
- Oak Bay
- Pitt Meadows
- Port Alberni
- Port Coquitlam
- Port Moody
- Pouce Coupe
- Powell River
- Prince George
- Prince Rupert
- Qualicum Beach
- Salmon Arm
- View Royal
- West Kelowna
- West Vancouver
- White Rock
- Williams Lake
The new rules will not apply to:
Future regulations are being drafted to exempt additional types of properties which are not the intended target of the proposed act, including timeshares and fishing lodges.
Changes to legal non-conforming use protections
Effective May 1, 2024, protections for non-conforming use of property will no longer apply to short term rentals. In some areas, these protections have historically allowed hosts to continue to use their property for short-term rentals even when it was against the new rules set by the local government.
Also effective May 1, 2024, the new provincial principal residence requirement will come into effect. This means that regardless of local zoning bylaws, the principal residence requirement will apply in designated communities (listed above).
Information about non-conforming use is available through local governments.
Non-conforming use authorities will continue to exist for other land uses.
The Province will establish a short-term rental registry. This will help ensure that short-term rental hosts and platforms are following the rules and provide local governments and the Province the information needed to follow up when they don't.
Hosts will be required to include a provincial registration number on their listing. They will also have to include their business license number, if a business license is required by the local government. Platforms will be required to validate registration numbers on host listings against the Province’s registry data.
Provincial compliance and enforcement unit
In order to ensure the rules are being followed, the Province will establish a provincial compliance and enforcement unit. This unit will:
- Track compliance
- Issue orders
- Administer penalties for violations
The regulations and responsibilities under the proposed Act will come into effect at different times over the next two years through a phased approach.
- Immediately after Royal Assent: Increased fines and tickets, business licensing authority for regional districts
- May 1, 2024: Principal residence requirement (including definition of exempt areas or accommodations), changes to legal non-conforming use protections
- Summer 2024: Data sharing
- Late 2024: Provincial registry launch, requiring platforms to remove listings without valid provincial registry numbers
These are some of the definitions for the Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act.
Short-term rentals are accommodations provided to members of the public in a host’s property, in exchange for money, for a period of less than 90 consecutive days. They are generally tourist accommodations that are often found in residential or resort areas. They may be advertised via online platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO, Expedia and FlipKey, but may also include short-term rental offers on other web forums including Facebook Marketplace, or found in classified ads in newspapers.
A principal residence is the residence an individual lives in for a longer period during a calendar year than any other place.
Platform services are the facilitation of promotion and transactions for reservations and payments related to short-term rental accommodation services in British Columbia, provided by a platform.
A secondary suite is a self-contained living unit with its own kitchen, sleeping area, and washroom facilities, and which is contained within a dwelling unit.
An accessory dwelling unit (often referred to as an ADU) is a self-contained living unit with its own kitchen, sleeping area, and washroom facilities, and which is located on the same property as a dwelling unit. An accessory dwelling unit is sometimes referred to as a garden suite, laneway home, carriage house or garage suite.
In general, a booking made on a short-term rental platform is not covered under the Residential Tenancy Act, but there are circumstances in which a tenancy may be established.
If there is uncertainty about the legal requirements related to a specific accommodation arrangement, it is best to speak with a lawyer.
Find more information on what types of accommodation are covered by the Residential Tenancy Act at this link: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies/is-my-tenancy-covered-under-bcs-tenancy-laws
The information on this webpage on the Province of British Columbia’s proposed Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act and potential future associated regulations (if the bill passes) is provided for the user’s convenience as a basic starting point. It is not a substitute for getting legal advice or other professional advice. If there is a conflict between the information on this webpage and the legislation or any future regulations, the legislation and any future regulations prevail. This information may be subject to change, including due to the legislative process and any future government approvals (if the bill passes).