Legalizing short-term rentals

The City of Kelowna could move one step closer to legalizing short-term rentals.

Currently, most of the hundreds of Kelowna listings on sites such as Airbnb and VRBO are operating illegally.

However, many have been skirting the current bylaws because of the high demand from visitors and tourists, and the potential revenues available.

A report from Airbnb showed in 2017, Okanagan hosts brought in US $16.7 million from nearly 126,000 visits. The typical host earned about US $4,700.

In order to provide clarity, staff have proposed a new short-term rental accommodation bylaw and associated regulations. Those will be added to select zones with residential and mixed-use commercial uses.

"The regulations aim to balance the desire to allow short-term rentals as an option for tourists and visitors with the need to protect for long-term rentals and to limit impacts on neighbouring properties," states the report city council will review Monday.

The proposed regulations would make short-term rentals legal in numerous areas across the city including single and two unit residential, multi-unit residential, mixed-use commercial, rural residential as well as tourist commercial and health district properties.

In most cases, short-term rentals would be restricted to an operator's principle residence.

Regulations include a maximum of two adults per bedroom or sleeping unit, a maximum of two or three bedrooms or sleeping units per residence and a minimum of one parking space per two sleeping units.

If the proposed changes are adopted, potential operators would be required to obtain a business licence prior to operating.

The cost of a licence has not been determined, however, fees will be set to support recovery of the estimated $320,000 annual cost for licensing and enforcement.

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