Debra Sheets stands in front of The Janion building at Wharf Street and Pandora Avenue, where she uses her condominium for short-term rentals. Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS

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

Facebook group mounting defence against proposed vacation rental rules

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 $4,350 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 ridiculously 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

Lost Victoria: Story of the Crystal Palace

Historian Stuart Stark launches book about iconic Oak Bay structure that was lost to flames

Mount Douglas Park is not a garbage dump, its firs are not your Christmas tree

Furniture and appliances routinely dumped, rare and native plants routinely stolen from park

Development on grounds of former Victoria Truth Centre sent to public hearing

Controversial project moves forward with revisions to previous plans

GALLERY: Oak Bay senior boys take first game in Gary Taylor basketball tournament

Jordan Burke wins Man of the Match honours in 106-54 win over Cowichan

VIDEO: That’s a wrap: Be a Santa to a Senior packages ready to go out

Program hands out more than 600 gifts to Greater Victoria seniors

VIDEO: That’s a wrap: Be a Santa to a Senior packages ready to go out

Program hands out more than 600 gifts to Greater Victoria seniors

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Victoria cycling advocate makes pitch lor lower speeds on local roads

Group points to evidence suggesting 30 km/h speed limit would save money, lives

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

Island entering the peak of flu season

Island Health says flu shots the best prevention against the virus

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

Firefighter dies, thousands more take on California blaze

This is second death linked to the Thomas fire, northwest of Los Angeles

Most Read