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VIDEO: The rules stack up against short-term rentals

Anyone with an unlicenced short-term rental property in Kelowna now faces a one-two punch from the city and the province.

There are fewer than 500 legal, licensed short-term rental properties in Kelowna and there's a ban on new applications.

The rest are operating outside the rules.

Province-wide restrictions take effect today and will be applied along with the City of Kelowna's STR clamp-down.

There is a full ban in place on any new short-term rentals.

The provincial rules restrict short-term rentals to principal residences, but more pertinent for Kelowna, they also force the display of a business licence on any listing.

<who> Photo Credit: City of Kelowna

"The city's rules have been in effect now for several months," said Planning Director Ryan Smith.

"And that was on purpose, to give those impacted by the rules time to make other arrangements."

But now, it seems, that time is up.

Those operating without a license have already been disappearing from rental sites including Airbnb and VRBO.

The estimated 2,400 total listings a year ago in Kelowna has already dropped to about 1,500.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia <who> Ryan Smith: City of Kelowna Planning Director

That leaves about a thousand non-compliant listings, but most of those are also expected to be removed.

"The city will be collaborating with the province to have those non-compliant listings, those without business licenses, removed from websites," explained Smith.

"They've hired new staff to do the enforcement for their regulations," added Smith. "And on properties where Kelowna regulations are being broken that are over and above provincial regulations, we'll have to do the enforcement."

The almost total wipeout of short-term rentals in Kelowna has sparked a lot of criticism, with some saying it'll hurt tourism badly.

"That is something that we're going to monitor," said Smith

<who> Photo Credit: 123RF

"If there are severe impacts to tourism, that's something we'll have to talk about with tourism Kelowna and council this fall," said Smith.

He doesn't rule out adjustments to the bylaw for those reasons, but for now the short-term rental policy is focused on housing.

"We're hearing we're in a housing crisis," said Smith.

"So we've pushed the regulations to be as strict as possible hoping that we'll see some positive results on the housing availability and housing affordability side."

In the meantime, Smith said the city is open to hearing about the impacts of the current policies which are expected to come back before council in the months ahead.

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