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Surrey council OKs short-term rentals policy

A business license will cost $350 per year
Black Press Media file photo

Surrey council endorsed a policy Monday that will govern short-term accommodation rentals and require a $350 per year business licence.

“This rate aligns with most municipalities in the local region,” Don Luymes, Surrey’s general manager of planning and development, told council. “It is proposed that STRs be permitted in all residential zones, mixed-use zones, and agricultural zones.”

Luymes noted in a corporate report before council that the provincial government last October approved the Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act aimed at regulating short-term rental accommodations in B.C.. “This legislation is intended to address the current housing shortage and give local governments stronger tools to enforce short-term rental bylaws,” Luymes explained. “The Province will now also play a role in the regulation of short-term rentals.”

So from May 1 onward the provincial government will limit short-term rentals to the host’s principal residence and a secondary suite or accessory dwelling and require a valid business licences to be displayed on a host’s listing. “By Summer 2024, local governments and the Province will begin sharing their data, allowing for the removal of listings without valid provincial registry numbers,” Luymes told council, adding that by late 2024 it will be mandatory for hosts and platforms to register with the provincial government.

READ ALSO: Surrey mayor wants city’s rules on short-term rentals aligned with B.C. legislation

“In order to comply with the new legislation, the City needs to establish a Short-Term Rental (“STR”) Policy,” Luymes said, with the following components of the policy aligning with provincial guidelines and registration: The provincial legislation requires an STR be operated in a principal residence such as a single-family dwelling and its secondary suite or coach house, a principal-residence whole townhouse, and a principal-residence apartment and its lock-off suite, “if applicable.”

As for duration, Luymes noted the provincial government defines an STR as less than 90 days, “and does not prevent local governments from continuing to define STRs differently (longer or shorter) from the Province’s 90-day definition” if council chooses.

“It is proposed that Surrey’s STR align with the provincial guidance and be for a period of less than 90-days, with no limit on the maximum number of bookings per customer per year,” he added.

Meantime, provincial regulations don’t specify whether a short-term rental host should be an owner or renter. “With its initial rollout, and for simplicity, it is recommended that the short-term rental host be restricted to the owner of the property,” Luymes advised.

Also during the April 8 meeting, council approved a motion Coun. Pardeep Kooner put forward on March 11 calling on city staff to produce a report on current bylaws concerning standard of care for rental units, how the city’s regulations compare with other cities, focuses on standards for health maintenance including heating and cooling, and considers ways to protect tenants in the event of any related bylaw changes.

“Given the fact that we have the drought coming up, the heating issues, the weather issues, I think we need to make sure that we are protecting seniors when it comes to the cooling of the homes,” Kooner told council.

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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