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How short term rentals affect Kelowna’s housing market

Published on November 9, 2022

There’s been a lot of chatter about short-term rentals these days. While it was originally seen as a welcome option for vacationers that found hotels too expensive, changes in the market have made the novelty of renting a room, suite, or an entire house seem less appealing for both guests and hosts alike.

Aside from issues with hidden Airbnb fees and rowdy guests, short-term rentals can have a big impact on the housing market that aren’t always immediately obvious.

What Is A Short-Term Rental

Short-term rentals include entire homes, condos, and apartments (or even a room or suite within a property), that are available for rent for periods of 29 days or less. One can often find these rentals on apps like Airbnb and Vrbo, and they give travelers more options for accommodations other than your standard hotels, motels, or hostels.

How Does This Impact The Housing Market?

By listing a room, suite, or an entire home as a short-term rental, it prevents these properties from being rented out in the long term, which adds to the housing shortage and has left some groups like the Union of BC Municipalities calling for more control of short-term rentals.

The impact of short-term rentals is felt particularly hard in places like Kelowna, which currently has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the country at 0.6% as it battles a serious lack of housing options.

It’s one thing to rent out rooms in the home you currently occupy, that’s something people have done forever. But it’s completely different to buy a property for the sole purpose of being a short-term rental that sits vacant for a significant portion of the year. This is taking away the opportunity for someone else to buy the home, or even rent long-term, and actually live there as part of the local community.

Can Any Home Be A Short-term Rental?

Many municipalities have implemented bylaws that have certain rules for short-term rentals, much in the way they do for secondary suites. 

Kelowna city bylaws for short-term rentals require a business license and the home to be occupied by its owner for at least 240 days a year. That way, a home isn’t just sitting empty because there’s no bookings for whatever reason.

The problem is, there doesn’t seem to be any real way to enforce the bylaws. And just because someone says a house they put an offer on is their dream home is no guarantee that they won’t just rent it out as soon as the deal goes through.

What’s the Downside to Short-Term Rentals?

By not having enough housing stock to buy or rent, it means fewer people can choose to make Kelowna their home. That means economic impacts such as losing out on potential employees to keep businesses running, or preventing new businesses from opening due to entrepreneurs not being able to find housing.

A community can’t grow without employees and entrepreneurs to contribute to it, and if it can’t grow, the economy slows down.

What’s The Upside to Short-Term Rentals?

There are plenty of good reasons to do short-term rentals if you already own your home, especially in Kelowna. Tourism is always going to be huge in the Okanagan, which means there’s always likely going to be folks that are looking into options that aren’t hotels or campgrounds. 

As long as you’re willing to do the work as a host – including cleaning and providing comforts and amenities to make your guests’ stay enjoyable – you can make money to help pay down your mortgage or just have extra cash to stash away for a rainy day. 

In Conclusion

If you’re considering opening your home up to short-term rentals, do your research and see if it’s something you think you’re able to commit to. If the idea seems like a bit much, a long-term rental might be a better option. You’ll still get that income, but with more stability from a long term tenant.

If you’re looking into buying or selling your home, the Mayne Brothers have 40 years combined experience in the Central Okanagan and will help you navigate the housing market.

For more information, call 250-860-0303 any time, day or night.


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