The City of West Kelowna could soon be increasing fines for short-term rentals that don’t comply with local bylaws.
Richard and Debby Gill, residents of West Kelowna, brought up the issue at a city council meeting on Tuesday night.
Richard said he found a total of 374 short-term rentals in West Kelowna listed online with verified physical adresses, however 120 were found to be in non-compliance with existing regulations by not listing their rent locations.
Increasing fines for repeat offenders is one simple solution to cracking down on the problem, Richard notes.
“We want the bylaw updated to include the advertising violation, increase tickets from $500 to a $1000 and apply a $10,000 infraction fee for repeat offenders.”
Richard also said that 62 files were opened by the city around short-term rental operators in 2018 — particularly around excessive noise, garbage and parking complaints.
Councillor Doug Findlater highlighted that if the regulations change, landlords would just rent out their homes in other ways.
“There are many cities that feel they (short-term rentals) affect the calculation of the vacancy rate. If the houses weren’t listed for short-term rentals, they’d be listed for rentals in another case.”
During the debate, Councillor Jayson Filkie took a more positive approach on the issue.
“I don’t think all short-term rentals are bad. I know that because I’ve been to a lot of these places. A lot of people are using the rentals as a revenue stream or for when they’re going away.”
At the end of the discussion, councillors agreed to put forth a motion by Rick de Jong to investigate and assemble a report on Airbnb’s operating in West Kelowna over a six-month period by city staff. The report is scheduled to be presented back to council next spring.