On September 21, the SCRD’s Infrastructure Services Committee heard the results of a self-selecting survey conducted this summer that asked residents for their opinions on regulating Short Term Rentals (STRs).
The survey was completed by 662 people, of whom 59 per cent lived in rural areas covered by the SCRD. More than 100 were operators of short term rentals. SCRD staff noted that there was little difference between the opinions of residents of the municipalities and rural residents.
Seventy per cent of respondents said STRs should be allowed – 30 per cent felt they should not be regulated at all and 40 per cent said they should be allowed under certain conditions.
The report noted: “Almost 60 per cent want a full time resident on the property and several commented that it could be someone living nearby who can respond to complaints on a 24-hour basis.”
There was also widespread agreement about fines: 80 per cent of respondents felt that the current $100 fine for infractions is insufficient and should be increased.
Overall, the largest concern of residents was the impact of STRs on long term rental accommodation, although residents of the rural areas were equally concerned about parking, noise, and loss of the “neighbourhood feel.”
In terms of advantages, respondents identified that they liked the opportunity to earn revenue, the wider selection of accommodation for visitors, and increased property value for homeowners.
Area F Director Ian Winn said he has been getting a lot of phone calls from residents who have complaints about short term rentals but are reluctant to phone the SCRD and file an official bylaw complaint for fear of friction with their neighbours.
Area B Director Garry Nohr concurred. “It’s exactly the same in Halfmoon Bay,” he said. “People would not phone in, even though they were coming to me and complaining about the noise on the weekends.” Nohr said people were frustrated by the lack of clear rules, and noted that there are now six STRs on his street alone.
Despite anecdotes of STR operators who rake in megabucks, the STR operators surveyed did not report high earnings. Just over half said they earned less than $10,000 annually, and only 30 per cent were making more than $15,000. Most respondents said the income helped them offset their rent or mortgage payments.
For the purposes of the survey, STRs were defined as rental of a less than 30 days.
The SCRD will continue public consultation on STRs for the rest of the year and bring a report on options for STR regulation to SCRD directors in early 2018. The information they collect will be shared with the municipalities.