Victoria short-term rental operators start GoFundMe campaign for legal costs

Facebook group mounting defence against proposed vacation rental rules

Owners of units in transient zones, like those in the Janion building, could be allowed to continue short term rentals. (News files)

Short-term rental operators are getting ready for battle as the City of Victoria ramps up efforts to regulate the industry.

The Greater Victoria Short Term Rental Alliance, a Facebook group of vacation rental owners and businesses, has started a GoFundMe page with the hopes of creating a legal defence fund to dispute regulations proposed by the city.

A lawyer hired by one of the owners said those challenges could include business licence refusals, perceived high licensing fees, and the prevention of using pre-bought condos for short-term rentals (STRs), in transient accommodation zones that previously allowed them. The fund had raised $4,150 of its $20,000 goal by press deadline.

Related: Draft short term rental bylaw considered in Victoria

John O’Brien and his partner own both long- and short-term rental properties and have donated to the defence fund. Although his properties are located outside the City’s transient zones – such business operations are not allowed in residential neighbourhoods – he thinks city council should take another look at the regulations.

“I don’t have an adequate pension. If I cannot hang on to my properties, I worry for my old age,” he said.

Related: Facebook group advocates for short term rental owners in Greater Victoria

Debra Sheets has a business licence for her STR unit in The Janion building, which lies in a transient zone. She’s concerned about the licensing fee potentially being as high as $2,500, which is significantly higher than the $110 she paid this year.

“I feel that’s completely and ridiculous and unfair,” she said, adding that she would support a legal challenge to the fee. “I’m not doing anything illegal … that’s a lot of income to lose every year, not to mention that it’s decimated the value of my unit.”

Last month, council decided to reconsider the fee amount. Even if the licence fee were lowered, Sheets said, she would support legal challenges from other STR owners.

In September, a bylaw amendment removed STR as a permitted land use in transient zones. The City is reviewing draft regulations for properties outside those zones that would limit rentals to one or two bedrooms in a primary residence, or to whole units temporarily while the permanent residents are away.

Coun. Geoff Young said he understands the concerns property owners in transient zones have about the licensing fees. While owners outside the transient zones may also be concerned, he said council wants these properties to return to the long-term rental market.

“Many people have concerns that they won’t be allowed to continue [short-term rentals], but in fact, they aren’t allowed to do it now,” he said. “You are not allowed in a normal residential neighbourhood outside the transient zone to rent out a house or a whole carriage house or a whole suite.”

Owners may operate bed and breakfasts using rooms in a home, but that’s the only transient accommodation use allowed, he added.

“Other than that, you should be renting units under the Residential Tenancy Act, [for] at least a month.”

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: Truth has to lead politicians online

The public deserves accountability and professionalism from its politicians

Discontent City argues that it’s keeping occupants safe

Hearing continuing today, July 18, at B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo

Island fire chief urges residents to respect fire ban

Prohibition on recreational fires went into effect today at noon

UPDATED: Cougar shot by police in Nanaimo

Shooting occurred in water at Nanaimo Yacht Club at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Canadian Tire delivers toys to ease kids’ street play pain in B.C. neighbourhood

It’s like Christmas for 11 kids who are supposed to be confined to their yards by strata bylaw

Wildfires erupt in B.C. Okanagan forcing evacuation orders and a highway closure

Check out a list of up-to-date information on blazes happening within the Kamloops Wildfire Centre.

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Drought alert posted for Koksilah and Chemainus Rivers

Around the Cowichan region hot, dry weather is drying up tributary streams as well

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

Police respond after dog left in vehicle at the movies

West Shore RCMP determined the animal was not in distress

Former Vike returns to lead women’s rowing program

Williams rowed for UVic, Oxford and Canada

Most Read