When the City of Nelson established its regulations about short term rental licences more than a year ago, it said it would evaluate them in a year. Early in 2018 the city put out a survey as part of that evaluation. City planner Alex Thumm brought the results back to council in a presentation on Monday along with some recommendations for changes.
He told council the survey was answered by 27 short term rental licence holders (about half of the total number registered with the city) and 108 members of the public (91 per cent of whom said they live in Nelson).
Detailed results of the survey appear below as an attachment, and a chart below that attachment summarizes those results.
Sixty-seven per cent of the licence holders said they are satisfied, very satisfied, or indifferent about the current regulations.
In the public survey, 37 per cent said they were generally satisfied or neutral about the regulations, and over 40 per cent said the regulations should be more restrictive.
Thumm said the city currently has 54 annual licenses in place, including 13 guest homes, 17 guest suites, 17 one-guest rooms and seven two-guest rooms, plus seven pending applications and one summer license. He said this amounts to all the short term rentals in Nelson, not just on Airbnb but on other platforms such as VTBO, so he is claiming 100 per cent compliance.
He said those numbers will appear to be at odds with Airbnb’s Nelson numbers on its website, but he explained that is because many of the company’s listings are actually outside the city limits and that many of them are listed on the site but not active.
The survey results shown in the chart below the attachment at the end of this story are based on the city’s three stated goals of the regulations, which are to provide a level playing field between short term renters and between short term renters and hotels (in terms of taxes, fees, licensing, and standards), to provide safe accommodation to tourists, and to meet local housing needs (i.e. to not threaten the supply of long term rentals).
In the survey responses, the most distinct difference between license holders and the general public was in the section on whether the regulations are helping to meet local housing needs. Most members of the public do not think they are helping, while a large number of the license holders think they are. He said some of the respondents from the public want short term rentals banned.
Based on the survey results, Thumm recommended to council that they make a number of changes including:
• Remove the $30 inspection fee
• Remove the $500 deposit requirement
• Lower guest suite licence fee from $800 to $500
• Guest home may not be advertised for more than 182 days per year
• Building official can waive inspection fee if building was recently inspected
• No licence will be issued if there are outstanding fines
• City reserves the right to request booking records directly from Airbnb or other listing platform
Thumm presented these and other changes for discussion only. Council will vote on them in July.