A Port Moody man who owns a condo in Kelowna says he and others in his building are being unfairly targeted by the province’s new short-term rentals legislation.
Starting this spring, the new rules restrict short-term rentals to a homeowner’s principal residences and a secondary suite in the same property.
Sam Ciacco purchased a unit in the Playa del Sol, a building that for the past 17 years has been largely operating as a short-term rental building.
“It is zoned commercial zone, particularly for short-term rentals. And so it comes with a bunch of challenges,” Ciacco said. “We paid a premium for the unit. We pay higher property taxes because of the zoning and the potential for earning revenue. We pay higher strata fees because the insurances is more expensive. We pay higher interest rates because banks won’t treat it as a residential unit. So, it’s a commercial level mortgage. So, there’s and higher licensing fees as well to operate as a short term rental.”
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During the slower times of the year Ciacco says he rents to university students, while during the higher-tourism summer months he uses the unit for short-term rentals.
Under the new rules, Ciacco’s unit would likely be classified as a condo investment property, and would need to be rented out for a minimum of 90 days.
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While he understands the intent behind the legislation is to create more long-term housing, Ciacco says these particular types of units were never meant to be long-term housing.
“These (owners) aren’t investors that are pushing the envelope and purchasing in a building where it’s residential,” he said. “These were never units … were always short-term, and even before our particular building was built, it was on a commercial piece of land that was used as a camp.”
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Under the new legislation, impacted communities with a population over 10,000 people and a vacancy rate above three per cent for two consecutive years can request to opt out of the principal residence requirement for short-term rentals. Kelowna’s vacancy rate is 1.2 per cent, according to the 2022 Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation data the province is basing the rules on. And it appears Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon’s department isn’t budging on the new rules.
“When many communities – such as Kelowna and Parksville – are seeing low vacancy rates, we believe the new legislation offers a balanced approach that will return thousands of homes to the long-term housing market, while still accommodating our province’s tourism needs,” the minister wrote in a statement to Global News. “We will continue to work with local governments to ensure that they have the supports they need to deliver the housing needed in our communities.”
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Ciacco says he and the other unit owners have not considered moving to a model that may be excluded from the short-term rental rules, such as fractional ownership or strata-titled hotels or motels, because it would change the “essence” and “intention” of the property.
However, he also doesn’t want to sell the property and is looking to the province for understanding.
“I’m not disputing that there’s a need for more housing,” he said. “And the approach that (the province has) taken might be a little heavy handed and not well thought out. And a lot of people like myself are getting caught in the crosshairs, especially those that have gone out of their way to do things legally and properly.”