Like all rental topics on stratas, AirBnB’s have been a hot topic for all involved in stratas. The main issue noted with AirBnB’s in stratas, is the short term rentals of the strata lots and the concern regarding security, wear and tear of the common property, noise, etc.
For some living in stratas, the question is whether using their strata lot as an AirBnB is permitted. For most owners, they only look to their bylaws as to whether AirBnB’s are permitted. However, the municipal zoning of the strata is also relevant when looking at whether short term rental use of the strata lots are permitted. In a previous post, I confirmed that the Strata Property Act doesn’t provide protection for short term rentals like it does for long term rentals, this can be an issue for some strata lot owners who intend to use their strata lot as a short term rental and/or AirBnB unit.
In a strata in North Vancouver, an owner had been using her strata lot as an AirBnB: The Owners, Strata Plan VR 812 v Yu, 2017 BCCRT 82. The strata corporation had issued more than $4,000 in fines against the owner for the AirBnB use. When the fines failed to change the owner’s behaviour, the strata started the CRT claim.
The strata had a bylaw that limited the number of people that could occupy a strata lot, a bylaw that only permitted one strata lot to be rented at a time for a minimum period of 6 months, and a bylaw that banned all short-term accommodation uses of strata lots (which is a separate bylaw from the one permitted rental bylaw).
For at least a year, the owner used her unit as an AirBnB rental, having up to 15 beds and 20 short term boarders staying in the strata lot at a time, charging $50 to $102 a night per person. The City inspected the strata lot and found the use to be a breach of the City’s zoning – the owner was not permitted to use the strata lot as “tourist accommodation use” (and was also not permitted to let people stay in storage rooms, hallways, utility rooms and her basement that had no windows). The City issued a cease and desist to the owner, which was largely ignored.
The strata also ordered the owner to stop breaching its rental bylaw and its short term accommodation use bylaw and started fining the owner $200/week. The fines and the City cease and desist had no effect on the owner’s behaviour.
The owner had argued that the bylaws didn’t apply to restrict her AirBnB use for at least one year after the bylaw was put into effect. For rental bylaws, there is a delay before they take effect, but as noted in my previous article, short term rentals are a license of a strata lot, not a lease and, therefore, aren’t true rentals. The CRT noted the distinction between a lease and a license of a strata lot and confirmed that AirBnB use is not a rental and does not have enjoy the delaying provisions in the Act for rentals.
Therefore, the CRT found that the owner had used the strata lot as an AirBnB unit for 23 successive weeks and found that the bylaws didn’t permit the owner to do so. As a result, the CRT upheld the fines against the owner at $200 per week for 23 weeks = $4,600. The CRT also ordered the owner to comply with the bylaws and cease using the strata lot as an AirBnB unit or any other short term accommodation use that is less than 6 months in length.