Fines for breaking Kelowna’s short term rental bylaws will start in summer

If you’re renting out a suite and you’re not licensed, you may face upwards of $10,000 a day in fines.

Fines and fees related to the City of Kelowna’s short-term rental bylaws are going toward the cost of managing the burgeoning industry.

Greg Wise, the city’s business licence manager, told council Monday that plans to implement licensing fees of $345 for principal residences and $750 for secondary homes as well corresponding fines as high as $10,000 for those who don’t comply with bylaws will simply be used as a tool to recoup costs already stacking up due to the rentals.

“Bylaw has responded to several hundred complaints with noise issues and the frequency of complaints is increasing,” said Wise.

“Licensing fees are a cost-recovery model, ensuring no cost (to taxpayers).”

The fees will cover the cost of an additional licensing officer and an administrative person who will process short-term rental licences, among other things.

It could also pay for some of the costs for bylaw officers.

While a fee and fine structure could be approved as soon as next month, the city intends to take a slow approach to implementation, focusing on education for a period of time in advance.

“When did (things) change that it was required to have a strong enforcement mandate?” Coun. Ryan Donn asked Wise.

Wise pointed out that it’s been like that from the get-go.

“Low licensing fees are not enough. We’ve currently got over 2,000 units out there operating contrary (to proposed bylaws) and they’re all well aware that’s the case,” he said.

“There’s significant motivation for people with multiple properties to receive significant income from this and we will not move toward licensing them without some form of compliance.”

READ MORE: SHORT TERM RENTAL REGULATIONS TAKE SHAPE

Regulations, which will go to public hearing March 12, allow licensed property owners to rent out a room in their principal residence as long as they live in that home at least eight months of the year.

Short-term rentals wouldn’t be permitted in investment properties, secondary suites or carriage houses, with a few exemptions.

Condo developments that have already been approved for short-term rentals will be grandfathered in, but limitations will apply going forward.

Late last year, Airbnb produced a report about wine regions indicating that 125,900 Airbnb guests a year arrive in the area to enjoy “wineries that range from small family-owned operations to large world-class facilities.”

The average Airbnb host charges $141 US a night, amounting to an average yearly income of $4,300 US. The total number of dollars earned in the Okanagan through Airbnb hosting is $16,700,000 US.

The average length of stay in the valley is 2.69 days and the average Airbnb renter hosts for 30 days a year.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed regulations at a public hearing on Tuesday, March 12, 6 p.m., at the council chambers. Written feedback may be submitted by 4 p.m., Monday, March 11, either by email to cityclerk@kelowna.ca or by letter to the Office of the City Clerk, 1435 Water St., Kelowna, BC V1Y 1J4.

For more information about the proposed short-term rental regulations and the Healthy Housing Strategy, visit kelowna.ca/planningprojects.

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@KelownaNewsKat
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