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March 31, 2017, 9:18 am

Richmond Expands Regulation of Short-Term Rentals

City of Richmond

RICHMOND - Richmond City Council has approved recommendations to amend its bylaws and licensing requirements for short-term rentals to address concerns related to illegal, hotel-like operations and other negative impacts on neighbourhoods. With the proposed changes, existing regulations will be enhanced and enforcement will be intensified along with increased fines and penalties.

“The new amendments to address short-term rentals will enable us to respond to neighbourhood concerns from our residents and encourage longer term rentals,” says Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “With these amendments, we have a measured approach to protect our neighbourhoods with clear, enforceable requirements.”

All forms of rental (short and long-term) are still permitted in residential zones (single family and multi-family) as lodging and boarding. Lodging and boarding as defined in the City’s zoning bylaw is limited to a maximum of two people and the operator must also reside in the home.

Single-family homes may also be licensed as Bed and Breakfast (B&B) operations. The new bylaws include a number of existing and new regulations for B&Bs. B&B owner-operators (which may include spouses and children of the property owner), must live in the home fulltime. B&B licences permit rental of up to three bedrooms at a time with a maximum of two guests per room for 30 days or less.

The short-term rental of entire dwelling units (single-family homes or multi-family units) for 30 days or less is prohibited. B&Bs are not permitted in dwellings that already have a secondary suite, coach house or “granny” flat, or with existing boarding/lodging.

A 500-metre buffer from existing B&Bs will be required for all new B&B operations. B&B operators also must notify their neighbours of their business and provide contact information.

The regulations will also increase fines and penalties and “Agri-tourism” accommodations in agricultural zones will now require site-specific rezoning. Council has also directed staff to connect with the provincial government to discuss provincial tax laws and options to level the playing field between B&Bs and hotels.

Under the current Business Regulation Bylaw, a B&B business licence is not issued unless it complies with building, fire and health regulations, and the licence is issued to an applicant, not the property.

The new regulations will come into effect after final adoption of the bylaw amendments, which is expected to take place in late April. The City will be communicating with residents and will continue to work with the Chamber of Commerce, B&B operators and web-based listing services such as Air BnB and Expedia, to raise awareness about the changes and their impacts on this industry.

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