City of Revelstoke plans crackdown on illegal vacation rentals, but how?

It appears the City of Revelstoke is gearing up for a crackdown on illegal vacation rentals

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There are numerous websites that list vacation rentals in Revelstoke, including VRBO.com pictured here. The City of Revelstoke is exploring ways to go after the ones that are illegal. Photo: Screenshot of Revelstoke rentals on VRBO.com

City of Revelstoke staff estimate up to 100 illegal vacation rentals are currently operating in Revelstoke.

Since vacation rental regulations were added to the zoning bylaw in July of 2014, eight have applied to legalize their vacation rental operations.

Now that the City of Revelstoke has a way residents can legally rent their homes out on a nightly or weekly basis, city staff are seeking direction on how to crack down on illegal vacation rentals.

City staff have sent out letters to owners of illegal vacation rental operations notifying them of the option to come into compliance. In addition to those who are applying for legal status, a further six have declare compliance, saying they’re now out of the illegal vacation rental business.

The question is what to do with the remaining operations. City staff estimate there are anywhere from about 45 to 85 more illegal rentals. According to city law, residences can’t be rented out for less than 30 days at a time. (There are exceptions, such as bed and breakfasts.)

In a staff report up for debate at the Feb. 24 city council meeting, city development services manager Dean Strachan presents two main options: going after them all, or only going after the ones that get public complaints.

Strachan recommends the latter: “Staff have recommended a bylaw enforcement practice of complaint-only in order to focus enforcement on properties and property owners creating issues within the community,” he writes in a report.

Strachan says the total crackdown option would come with enforcement costs, including staff time and legal costs.

A downside of the complaints system is it might not be effective in making headway on the issue if residents don’t complain.

He also suggests other carrot-and-stick options, such as amnesties or reduced fee enticements.

What do you think? Do you prefer the bring down the hammer method? Or the drop a dime system? Or is there another way of going about it the city has overlooked? Please leave your comments below.

View the city report on the issue at this link.

 

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