Legislative Changes to Housing in BC

Short-Term Rentals:

Only a few weeks ago the provincial government announced new legislation to comprehensively change how short-term rentals are regulated. The new regulations are intended to give municipalities and the province more power to regulate short-term rentals across the province. The new legislation will:

  • As of May 2024, limit short-term rentals in communities with populations of 10,000 or more to principal residences (plus one secondary suite) only. Exemptions will exist for designated resort communities, time-shares, etc.
  • Eliminate the current exemption for short-term rentals to continue to operate in municipalities that restrict their use because they were operating prior to the by-law banning them being enacted (grandfathered-in). Often referred to as a non-conforming exemption. 
  • Increase fines for short-term rentals owner/operators breaking local municipal by-law rules $3000 per infraction, per day.
  • Require short-term rental platforms will be required to share data with municipalities to and the province, including information about short-term rental hosts.
  • Require short-term rental platforms to include businesses license and registration numbers on listings when they are required by a municipality.
  • Grant Regional Districts regulatory and licensing powers parallel to those of municipalities.
  • Establish a provincial short-term rental registry and provincial and provincial enforcement body.
Implementation is expected to be phased out throughout this year and 2024. The fines and bylaw powers will come into effect immediately upon royal assent of the bill. The principal residence rule, removing the non-conforming exemption and the requirement to display business licenses will come into effect May 2024. The provincial registry and data sharing requirements will come into effect summer to late 2024.

Other Upcoming Legislative Changes

The provincial government continues to implement the policies laid out in their previously announced Homes for People plan. In addition to their new legislation on short-term rentals, the province introduced legislation to legalize secondary suites across the province. This means all municipalities will need to permit at least 1 secondary suite or laneway home on every single-family or duplex zoned lot. Further to this, the province will be requiring communities of 5,000 people or more to allow 3-4 units on all single-family zoned lots, essentially eliminating areas zoned for single-family housing only. A minimum of 6 units of housing will be required in areas along major transit corridors. Municipalities will need to have their zoning bylaws in compliance with these new rules by June 30, 2024. Further to this, the province has also introduced new legislation to change the way municipalities work with developers to fund community amenities. The changes are intended to reduce delays in building housing projects by creating more cost certainty for property developers. 

BC Speculation Tax is Expanded

The B.C. government is expanding its speculation tax to 13 new municipalities. The speculation and vacancy tax will affect the following newly added municipalities:

Salmon Arm
Lake Country
Qualicum Beach

Residential property owners in the new communities will need to declare in January 2025 based on how they used their property in 2024 or they will be assessed the new tax. Exemptions to the tax include primary residences, properties with a long-term tenant, and life events such as separation or divorce.

The B.C. government first introduced the tax in 2018 and it was initially expanded to six more communities for the 2023 tax year. The expansion announced on November 22, 2023 brings the total number of B.C. communities where the tax is applied to 59.

The speculation and vacancy tax rate is two per cent for people who don't pay the majority of their taxes in Canada, and 0.5 per cent for Canadian citizens or permanent residents who pay the majority of their taxes in the country.