Nelson is looking for help from the province to enforce its short term rental rules. Photo: Airbnb website screenshot

Airbnb should not accept dwellings without business licenses, city says

Nelson wants province to negotiate with the company

Nelson council wants the provincial government to negotiate a deal with Airbnb that would see the company refuse to register B.C. properties that don’t have a municipal business licence.

Council voted at its June 11 meeting to take this in a resolution to the annual conference of the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) in September. The resolution would ask the gathering of municipalities to agree to ask the province and the company to implement this policy province wide.

Earlier this year the City of Vancouver negotiated a deal with Airbnb, and it’s this deal that Nelson planning staff suggested should be a model for the whole province.

However, since Vancouver signed the agreement with Airbnb, it has come out in the national media that that under the agreement it is still the city that has to chase down people who fail to get a licence, not Airbnb, and the company won’t be responsible for removing listings from its site if they don’t comply with city bylaws.

All the company will actually do, it turns out, is provide the City of Vancouver with the names and contact information of its operators.

There are currently 54 short term rental properties in residential areas of Nelson registered with the city.

Many municipalities around the world, including Nelson, are attempting to regulate and tax short term rentals to keep a level taxation playing field for hotels and other tourist accommodators, to preserve the quality of neighbourhoods, and to attempt to retain long-term rental stock.

Related stories:

• Nelson monitors, enforces short term rental rules (Oct. 2017

• Airbnb to collect provincial sales tax in B.C. (Feb. 2018)

But collecting taxes and enforcing regulations are time consuming and expensive.

“Short term rental costs should be shared and not all fall to municipalities,” said Mayor Deb Kozak at the June 11 meeting.

Early this year, under pressure from governments, Airbnb announced it will start collecting sales tax from its B.C. operators and remitting it to the provincial government.

Nelson city planner Alex Thumm reports that Nelson is unusual because it has higher business licence fees for short term rentals than any other B.C. municipalities, but it also has a higher rate of compliance — close to 100 per cent.

He told the Star he is regularly contacted by other municipalities looking for advice and that Nelson’s regulations are seen as a best practice.

Nelson’s short term rental bylaw includes requirements related to business licences and fees, number of licences per unit and per city block, application procedures, property inspections, payment of the local tourism fee, security deposits, property inspections, and parking.

Related stories:

• Nelson gets big response to Airbnb survey and meeting (July 2016)

• Nelson council passes short term rental bylaw (Dec. 2016)



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

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