Carli Berry/Capital News Kelowna city coun. Ryan Donn gave input from the city during the Happipad rental forum, held Wednesday night at the Okanagan coLab.

Landlords turn to short-term rentals

Some landlords chose to rent short-term due to issues with the Residential Tenancy Branch

Although Airbnb is illegal in Kelowna, few people were completely opposed to short-term rentals and made their opinions clear during a rental forum hosted by rental web site Happipad.

On Wednesday night, around 20 community members gathered and voiced their opinions about the rental housing market in Kelowna, with vacancy rates in the city below one per cent.

Concerns were shared about the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB), which some landlords said is ineffective.

A couple, who asked not to be named, said they have a long-term rental until, and an Airbnb unit, but found dealing with an unruly long-term renter to be a complete hassle.

“We have a far worse situation for our long-term rental… he turned into an absolute nightmare and we learned we have very few rights when it comes to long-term renters,” he said.

As a landlord, you make more money with short-term rentals and there’s less issues, he said.

“The guy left our place in far worse shape than any short-term renter has.”

Related: Renting in Kelowna gets more expensive

CEO of Happipad Cailan Libby, who is also a landlord, agreed with how difficult it is to work with the RTB.

“Talking about the RTB as well, I can sympathize for you. I’ve had two (sets) of tenants that we had to go to the RTB,” he said, adding one now has to go through small claims court.

Libby said he likes the structure of Airbnb and would like to bring “that same proficiency and convenience for long-term renting” with Happipad, a website which aims to benefit both tenants and landlords with a two-way rating system.

Airbnb also has a screening process, which includes a two-way rating system and a required security deposit.

Mark Ameerali is a short-term rental owner and also attended the forum.

“A lot of people who are renting (short-term) are renting to students… You try to rent out a short-term rental suite in the winter and it’s actually impossible. You can’t do this like Vancouver or Toronto and take housing stock off the market permanently. You have to rent to students, or hospital workers or seasonal workers or somebody else, so you’re not removing long-term rentals off the market.”

Related: Students utalize short-term rentals

However, Libby said “a lot of properties for short-term rentals are in locations students don’t want to be in.”

One long-term renter was concerned about the difficulties of finding a place to live long-term in Kelowna, and only when she had her story published in a media outlet was she able to a find a place.

Currently, Kelowna has 940 active Airbnb hosts who have an average income of $5,900 per year, according to Airbnb.

According to the city staff report approximately 500 units are in the short-term rental pool in Kelowna. The approximate number of condo/secondary rental units are 12,736 while the hotel room supply sits at 3,061.

Kelowna Coun. Ryan Donn also attended the forum at the Okanagan coLab downtown.

With the next discussion Happipad should address long-term rentals, and there is the opportunity for the city to present grievances about the RTB to the province, said Donn.

City staff will be presenting a new report on short-term rentals to come before council before Christmas and will have online public engagement starting in the next few weeks, he said.

A nuisance bylaw is also in its beginning stages, said Donn, which will allow bylaw officers to put noise fines on landlords through the actual property with property taxes.

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