UBER | AIRBNB | STRATA RENTAL RESTRICTIONS
Just mention UBER to British Columbians and they will simply roll their eyes and say “When will it ever happen?” Mention Airbnb in Vancouver and you will get a mixed reaction; an opinion that BC took too long to act. And now recently, the BC Rental Housing Task Force (BCRHTF) recommended banning strata’s rights to restrict rentals. Yet again, the proposed solution has several opposing opinions.
What are the common issues?
1) They all have to do with the adoption of sharing and allowing the individual owner to rent their property or personal assets . In the case of Uber, it’s about opening up the economy to anyone who owns a personal vehicle whether it may be charging for a car ride or renting out their vehicle to other drivers. With AirBnB, it’s about giving homeowners the ability to earn income by renting their home for short periods of time. With the new proposed rental legislation, its about giving all strata owners the option to become landlords whenever they choose to.
2) They all have issues related to safety of the public. In BC, the government takes a very conservative approach to allowing services that have a component of public safety. Some individuals feel that Uber has safety issues relating to the driver safety, insurance, and safety of the rider and this has been the main issue that the government cites as reason for not adopting earlier. Airbnb allows home owners to rent their homes but the government is concerned about tenant safety, building safety, and the removal of rental stock from long term rental stock. With the new proposed legislation to ban strata rental restrictions, some groups of interest feel that it is riddled with issues of building safety, tenant safety, tenant rights, and homeowner rights.
3) They all have stakeholders that are against the adoption of the new age economy. UBER has the taxi driver community and other powerful lobbyists to slow down the adoption of UBER and other ride sharing. Airbnb has hotel operators as well as Bed and Breakfast operators who lobby that Airbnb should require further licensing and taxes. In the case of Strata rental restrictions strata members feel that their rights are being taken away.
4) They all have solutions and adoption in other provinces or countries that have been proven successful.
Like Uber, Grab is a popular rideshare app that is widely used in South East Asia. Take for example a major city like Kuala Lumpur. When you plan a visit, the most common recommendation is to use Grab (Uber is a major shareholder). Many tourists and locals prefer to use Grab over a regular taxi drive to travel from one point to another mainly because of the convenience and fair market pricing.
In many parts of Australia, Europe and SouthEast Asia, Airbnb has become the preferred type of accomodation as it provides almost all the comforts at market prices and allows visitors to be located closer to the cultural aspects of every city.
Rental Restrictions as it currently exists in BC is a whiplash of legislations. On one hand, legislation allows Strata to restrict rentals. On the other hand, the BC government approved legislation to allow developers to exempt new buildings from Strata restrictions. We are now witnessing another legislation to ban all rental restrictions. While there were good intentions to address the issue of long term rental shortage, the heavy-handed back and forth approach has divided the public.
Can BC move faster for critical issues like rental stock and affordability?
There is always room for improvement and BC is ready! We need to move to earlier public discussions – With current process, there is opinion that many interest groups were not aware that they could offer opinion to the BC task force.
The proposed legislation to ban rental restrictions has divided opinion. Could it be that the solution is too heavy-handed? Is there a less heavy-handed solution?
A proposed solution?
The BC government’s desire to increase rental stock and affordability is a noble effort that many British Columbians support. However, some homeowners feel that BCTHF’s proposal to remove rental restrictions across the province is a heavy-handed solution. Rather than taking away rental control completely from strata corporations – perhaps a better compromise would be to legislate that strata can only restrict a guideline percentage. We propose that 30% of buildings should be allowed to rent out their units at a minimal. This matches the organic percentage of 30% renters in BC. This guideline would force strata that do not allow any rentals to increase to 30%. It would also force any strata that only allow a few rentals to increase to 30%. Strata would still have some control but would be guided by the organic 30% of rental units.
What are your thoughts about the proposed legislation surrounding rental bylaws ? Do you agree with proposed legislation? And do you have any recommendations to help increase rental stock and affordability without taking away control of strata corporation?
Looking to buy a strata property but not sure if it allows rentals or not ? Feel free to call 604-307-9506 and reach out to our team at [email protected]
Vincent Chan is a Director and partner at Meryl.REALTOR. His background includes Business Development | Strategic Marketing for real estate and law firms. Formerly he was a Director of Development & Marketing at Electronic Arts. His passions include architecture, interior design, writing, photography and design. You can reach him via email: [email protected]