Strata prohibitions on rentals should be banned, says Victoria city councillor

Victoria City Hall | Photo: Bruce Stotesbury, Times Colonist

The City of Victoria needs to ask the province to change legislation so rentals could not be prohibited by strata councils, according to Coun. Ben Isitt

Under Isitt’s proposal, strata councils would still be allowed to introduce bylaws prohibiting short-term vacation rentals.

Rather than endorsing the motion, councillors referred it back to Isitt for clarification.

Coun. Jeremy Loveday worried that without a vacant unit tax, further restrictions on rentals would only serve to drive up prices of condominium units.

Isitt said he will do more research and then bring the proposal back to council.

“It was not referred into the ether. It wasn’t a procedural manoeuvre to take no action,” Isitt said. “I think it was a request from council for further refinements.”

He said that rising housing prices combined with low vacancy rates are contributing to economic insecurity for seniors, youth and people with low to moderate incomes.

More than 20 per cent of property owners responding to a recent survey in Vancouver cited rental restrictions imposed by strata councils as the reason why their condominium units were sitting vacant, Isitt noted.

Victoria has a blanket prohibition on bylaws restricting rentals in condominium projects built over the past decade. Isitt’s measure would be aimed at complexes built before that.

“It relates to that older housing stock. And, certainly, that housing stock is more affordable,” Isitt said, adding: “It’s not a big issue, but it’s an issue.”

Meanwhile, councillors endorsed Isitt’s suggestions that city staff, who are developing regulations surrounding short-term vacation rentals, consider several requirements, including:

• One listing per host

• Proof of the host’s identity and municipal address, as well as proof that the property is the host’s primary residence

• Proof of sufficient insurance coverage and that mortgage terms are not violated

• A current police background check

• Submission of site and floor plans depicting size and location of the residence, and number of off- and on-street parking spaces

Times Colonist

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