B.C. fuelling Airbnb rentals?

By Lynne Arbuthnot 

Will changes to the Residential Tenancy Act backfire? Could new B.C. tenancy rules end up pushing more long-term rentals into Airbnb short-term rentals? 

In a valiant effort to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords, the B.C. government passed legislation to stop "unfair and unjustified rent increases."


By no longer allowing landlords the right to hold tenants to a fixed-term lease with a move-out clause. And the kicker is; this legislation only received royal assent at the end of November, yet is already in effect.

Call the tenancy branch to confirm. But from my understanding, any fixed-term agreement currently in place may now be void. 

So where does this leave the non-professional landlord? (A non-professional landlord is an individual property owner with a space to rent as opposed to a property management company with a building of rentals.)

My online store sells hotel supplies to property owners who've opened their homes, cottages, resort condos, suites and so on to travellers. As a result, we speak to Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway hosts daily.

We often ask our customers what prompts them to open their properties to this fast-growing, home-sharing and/or short-term rental phenomena.

The top answers are:

  • Extra income.
  • Fun to meet guests.

“The kids have moved out, so instead on moving away and downsizing, we turned the downstairs into a suite. This means we can now afford to keep the extra space for our kids and other family and friends when they visit."

From the rumblings I'm hearing, I’m concerned this new rule may backfire and inadvertently remove even more long-term rental space from B.C.'s already sparse supply. In fact, that is exactly what motivated me to write this piece. 

One customer just this past Thursday told me me how excited she was to be opening her furnished and now fully provisioned in-house suite to a UBC student from this January until the end of April. At a very low rate, I might add.

She also told me how she already has close to half the summer booked with travellers, and three weeks with her daughter and grandkids. I truly hated to be the one to have to do it, but I warned her that she can not have a tenancy agreement with an end date.

Even if the landlord and her prospective tenant agree in principle, the tenant can change her mind and decide she’d rather stay on once April rolls around.

After confirming this with a call to the tenancy branch, she opted to take the suite off the long-term market.

Just to clarify; anything over 30 days is considered by law as being long-term, and anything 29 days or under as short-term.

Ask yourself. If you've worked a lifetime to accumulate your own real estate, and now find yourself with extra space available, what would you do?

  • Rent long-term with all the usual risks plus this added disincentive that allows the tenant to unilaterally decide when to end the tenancy.
  • Fix your space up as a guest suite, or guest room, and become a host to short-term visitors. Meet interesting pre-vetted people. Enjoy guaranteed, up front payments.

Lynne Arbuthnot is the founder/owner of VR Supplies.


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