small model of a house and a house key on a table

B.C.’s Short Term Rental Laws: Vancouver Island

The profitable world of short-term rentals in British Columbia, Canada, is undergoing a significant transformation with the enactment of the Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act. As this legislation takes centre stage in BC’s news cycle, Canadians who rent and international students are no doubt hoping that these changes will make it easier to find affordable rental housing on Vancouver Island. On the other side of the coin, British Columbians who have been successful short-term rental operators who have been attempting to decipher the complexities of the act have found it to be like doing a 5000 piece puzzle without turning the pieces over – leaving numerous important questions unanswered.

This blog post aims to untangle the complexities of B.C.’s short-term rental legislation, shedding light on what these changes mean for property owners on Vancouver Island, how they may be affected by local governments’ bylaws, and suggesting steps to navigate this evolving landscape. Additionally, it will address the implications of the crackdown on owners listing their short-term rental units on sites like Airbnb and VRBO and the broader effects on the Canadian rental market in the Province.

Breakdown of B.C.’s Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act 

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon and Premier David Eby introduced B.C.’s short-term legislation in order to address British Columbia’s housing crisis which–according to the BC government–has been exacerbated by the widespread use of entire homes for short-term rentals. According to the information provided, there are 16,000 homes across BC that are used for short-term rentals rather than long-term rentals creating scarcity for appropriate long-term rentals for residents. To counter this, the Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act has been introduced with the following key points:

Purpose of the Act:

  • Empower local governments with tools to enforce short-term rental bylaws.
  • Reintegrate short-term rental units into the long-term housing market.
  • Establish a new Provincial role in short-term rental regulation.


  • Covers short-term rentals offered to the public via various platforms and listing forums.
  • Does not apply to certain categories like reserve lands, hotels, or temporary shelters.

Enforcement Measures:

  • Local government fines for bylaw offences have increased significantly.
  • Regional districts now have business licensing authority for short-term rentals.
  • Display of a valid business licence number on listings is mandatory as of May 1, 2024.
  • Short-term rental platforms must remove listings without a valid business licence.

Data Sharing:

  • Short-term rental platforms are expected to share information about listings with the Province by summer 2024.
  • The Province will maintain confidentiality but use the data for bylaw enforcement.

Returning Units to Long-Term Market:

  • As of May 1, 2024, short-term rentals are limited to the host’s principal residence plus one secondary unit.
  • Protections for non-conforming use of property will no longer apply to short-term rentals.

Provincial Oversight:

  • A short-term rental registry will be established by late 2024 or early 2025.
  • A provincial compliance and enforcement unit will be formed to ensure adherence to rules.


  • Various regulations will be phased in between October 26, 2023, and late 2024.

Short-Term Rentals vs. Tenancies:

  • Generally not covered under the Residential Tenancy Act, but there may be exceptions.
  • Legal advice is recommended for uncertain accommodation arrangements.

Policy Guidance for Local Governments:

  • Local governments can access policy guidance for implementing the Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act.

Important Dates

February 29, 2024:

Deadline for cities and towns to submit requests to “opt out” or request special “carve outs” from the BC Short Term Rental Accommodation Act.

March 31, 2024:

Deadline for areas not initially covered by the Act to submit requests to “opt in” and be subject to the new regulations.

May 1, 2024:

Deadline for property owners, especially in captured municipalities, to cease accepting new short-term rental stays for less than 90 days on booking platforms or their websites.

End of 2024:

Expected completion of the mandatory provincial short-term rental registry, a crucial tool for tracking data on short-term rental locations and ownership status.

Late 2024 or Early 2025:

Anticipated launch of the provincial short-term rental registry.

Expected timeframe for effective enforcement, according to opposition parties, as the registry becomes fully operational.

While these dates highlight key milestones in the implementation and enforcement of BC’s new short-term rental regulations, readers should stay vigilant for any updates or changes to the timeline from official government sources.

What Short Term Rentals Will Be Allowed?

According to the new legislation, as of May 1, 2024, the Province will limit short-term rentals to the host’s principal residence plus one secondary suite or accessory dwelling. This means that if you have a basement or attic suite or a laneway home on the property of your principal residence, you are able to use those spaces as short-term vacation rentals. 

However, this doesn’t apply everywhere! For those areas that are not listed or who have successfully opted out, this will not apply. For up-to-date information on the principal residence requirement, click here.

Remaining Issues and Unanswered Questions

Approaching the May 1, 2024 deadline, property owners stand at a crucial juncture, striving to comply with imminent regulations while grappling with uncertainties surrounding enforcement timelines. 

Opting In and Out

Adding to the complexity, municipalities can “opt out”, or seek special exemptions from the Act until February 29, 2024. Regions not initially covered by the Act can “opt in” by March 31, 2024, which only intensifies the complexity of this situation. It is interesting that the “op-in” timeline is far longer than the “opt-out” timeline – another question yet to be answered.

Minimum Stay Requirements 

A contentious point emerges from the redefinition of long-term rentals, shifting from a 30-day minimum stay to a now-required 90-day minimum in opted-in zones, impacting the mid-term stay market.

Amidst the confusion, concerns about potential class-action lawsuits against the BC Government loom large, particularly regarding Legal Non-Conforming properties initially zoned and built for short-term rentals. These properties face unique challenges as zoning changes come into play.

Upcoming Election

Further complicating matters, the 2024 election introduces political uncertainty. Opposition parties have diverse stances, ranging from promises to modify or repeal the Act to advocating for a more robust take on controlling short-term rentals.

Future Bookings

One of the main questions that guests are asking is: if I’ve made a booking before May 1st, 2024 for any time after that date (ex. June, July, August or later) will the booking still be honoured? The short answer is yes, even if your booking is in a captured area where the restrictions are in place, as long as the booking was made before May 1st, you can expect that the booking will still be valid. After May 1st, 2024 vacation home owners are to cease accepting bookings that are less than 90 days in length. 

Given the expected completion of the mandatory provincial short-term rental registry by the end of 2024, a crucial question persists: How can property owners navigate this intricate web of short-term rental rules, potential legal challenges, and political uncertainties, especially in places like Victoria? And how can enforcement begin until the registry is complete (in 2025)?

Bottom line, there are still many unanswered questions and confusion about this new legislation. But as it unfolds, it’s crucial to stay updated with official sources for any changes in these regulations. Visit the official government website to get up to date changes and the non profit society Property Rights BC for information about the legal action against the BC government is progressing.