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

UPDATE: Missing: 12-year-old girl found

Victora police say missing youth has been found and is safe

The blind lead the blind at the Pacific Training Centre

Centre specializes in teaching visually impaired people everyday skills to live an independent life

Fewer Greater Victoria residents collecting EI benefits

The number of local EI recipients dropped by 5.5 per cent from January 2018 to January 2019

Sidney woman hosts charity shabby-chic furniture sale

Upcycled and refurbed furniture sells to benefit the Alzheimer’s Society of BC and Crohn’sColitis Canada

Student Voice: Reynolds ReyBots qualify for Texas-sized Robot championship

ReyBots robot met premier, ‘dodged’ the competition

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

Most Read