“AirBNB and the whole sharing economy are not going away,” said David Hutniak, CEO of LandlordBC. But the real challenge, he added, is for strata corporations of condominium buildings.
“Not all owners are respecting the rules,” said Hutniak. “The issue at the end of the day is safety and liability, which falls on the landlords.”
Short-term rentals are necessary in some situations, added Sarah Daniels, a Realtor at Bay Realty. For instance when a homeowner’s house is being renovated and they need a place to live for three months. “But it does compromise the condo building in terms of security and liability,” she said.
A tenant would be covered by tenant’s insurance, but if that tenant is subletting their condo to strangers, even if they are screened by AirBNB, insurance issues come into play.
“If the property is being used more as a hotel room, it completely changes the aspect of how the insurer will look at it,” said Daniels.
Landlords and strata corporations can crack down on this by ensuring the inclusion of a caveat in the lease agreement. For instance, one of Daniels’ clients bought a condo with the idea of short-term rental opportunities, but the condo board shut it down by including a section about a minimum one-year lease.
“The BC Tenancy Act has a basic lease that landlords can download,” added Daniels. “Some condo boards will stipulate that no sub-leases can be added in and, if it was, the lease could be ended immediately.”
LandlordBC offers its landlord members access to a proprietary tenancy agreement, which includes specific wording around short-term rentals.
Hutniak added: “A year ago, we started hearing that this was becoming an issue so we started an education process with our landlords.”
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While a long-term tenant can certainly offer a degree of comfort for investors, tenant turnover does increase the opportunity for a landlord to raise the rent. But some landlords in B.C. are transforming the frequency of tenant turnover completely by taking advantage of short-term rentals afforded by lodging services such as AirBNB.