By Steve Hubrecht
Radium recently made a few tweaks in its approach to short term rentals (STRs), resolving to only issue business licence for STRs in strata properties if STRs are allowed by strata corporations, and deciding to more actively pursue local homeowners who are operating STRs without business licences.
The change came during an STR policy review at the most recent Radium council meeting.
Radium chief administrative officer Mark Read kicked off the discussion at the Wednesday, Nov. 10 council meeting, pointing out that there are many strata property owners in Radium that are operating STRs in contravention of strata licensing regulations, and that “there have been some business licences that were issued (by the village) that then had to be revoked when we heard they were against strata bylaws.”
Radium bylaw officer Kent Kebe told council that the village has so far issued 13 business licences for STRs, that there are currently eight more applications for licences on hold, and that five applications have been declined or revoked. Kebe explained that there were a number of reasons that the eight applications on pause had been held: lack of appropriate insurance, because of zoning applications, or in some cases, because the suites being rented out have never been registered and consequently need to be legally registered and get checked by a building inspector.
Read explained that insurance (or, more accurately, lack of appropriate insurance) is the biggest risk at play. STR owners must have special insurance allowing them to run a commercial operation in their property. Then there is the related issue of whether or not the strata corporation has insurance allowing for commercial operations in multi-unit buildings.
“The worst case scenario is that there is not appropriate insurance at all levels and there is a fire, caused by paying guests, in a multi-family strata unit that is being operated as an STR, the entire building burns down, and all the insurance providers pull out,” said Read, noting that without insurance clearly allowing for commercial operations, each insurance provider in this hypothetical scenario could claim not to know the unit was being operated as an STR, thus rendering the insurance invalid. That, Read went on, could possibly leave a burned out building sitting in Radium for quite a long time, with nobody able to afford the fix-up costs.
Radium mayor Clara Reinhardt indicated support for the changes, saying, “we (the village) simply can’t take on that risk.”
After the discussion, council members unanimously resolved that Radium will only issue short term rental business licences to strata properties where such use is permitted by the bylaws of the strata corporation, and further, that strata corporations will continue to be responsible for regulating STR activity where such activity is not permitted by the strata bylaws.
Read also asked councillors, “do you want us to start looking to see who might be operating STRs without a license?”
“At the end of the day, we want as many people compliant as possible…I don’t want to be passive on this,” replied Reinhardt, suggesting that the village send a letter to local stratas, and that the village should not be afraid to name noncompliant stratas.
“It is important to identify those who have not taken steps to come forward,” added councillor Todd Logan. “I think we should move forward with that.”
“My sense is you want us to be more proactive, and we will be,” said Read. “We’ll ramp it up gently.”