Vacation rentals major discussion at UBCM conference

Mayor Nancy Cooper says the issue of unregulated vacation rentals, particularly those offered through Airbnb and similar services…

Mayor Nancy Cooper says the issue of unregulated vacation rentals, particularly those offered through Airbnb and similar services will be one of the major points of discussion at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) meeting, Sept. 28 to 30 in Victoria.

The issue of vacation rentals is becoming province-wide as more and more complaints about houses and suites in residential neighbourhoods with different people staying there every week are reaching local governments, Cooper said.

“There are issues there that are higher than the local level. We need the provincial level to enact legislation of some kind.”

Cooper said guests who use Airbnb, VRBO and similar services generally do not pay hotel taxes which are generally used to support tourism in the area.

Salmon Arm’s hotel tax comes into affect April, 2017.

A motion on the agenda for the UBCM meeting, tabled by local government in Revelstoke, focuses on holding vacation renters accountable for taxes.

The motion reads: “Be it resolved that UBCM request the provincial government to ensure tax fairness and a level playing field by collecting all applicable taxes (PST and where applicable MRDT) on short-term accommodation rentals offered by online booking platforms and other means.”

The motion acknowledges the tax advantage that Airbnb and other services have over traditional hotels and the effects short-term rentals have on the availability and price of housing for longer-term rentals and purchasers.

There are more than 50 properties in the Salmon Arm area ranging from single rooms to full houses advertised for ten or more occupants on Airbnb.

Prices are listed as high as $350 per night.