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City plans to introduce a second penalty option for short-term rental violations

The proposed option carries smaller fine but simplifies dispute process
Illegal Hotel

The City of Richmond is considering introducing a second penalty option, which carries a smaller fine but speeds up the process of adjudicating disputes, for illegal short-term rentals.

Currently, the city issues a $1,000 fine per offence to illegal short-term rentals under the Municipal Ticket Information (MTI's), and any disputes are handled in the provincial court.

“This process can take a long time to complete,” said Ted Townsend, spokesperson for the city, to the Richmond News.

While keeping MTI's, at a general purposes committee meeting last month, city staff proposed an alternative option of issuing "BVN's" (Bylaw Violation Notices), which only carries a maximum $500 fine per offence.

And under BVN's, all disputes are adjudicated through a dispute resolution process that goes through the city rather than the provincial court – It does not require court time and legal fees.

"(It) allows for faster resolution of some cases if we choose, however due to provincial legislation that option has a lower maximum fine," explained Townsend.

“If council approves this proposal, we will have the option of issuing either BVN's or MTI's, which we hope will be a more efficient means of getting offenders to comply with the bylaw."

The proposal was supported by the committee, which Mayor Malcolm Brodie and all councillors attended. It still requires council approval before coming into effect.

According to the report, last year, the city issued 75 tickets to illegal short-term rentals and collected $36,000 in fines; in 2017, it issued 87 tickets, collecting $41,800.

Townsend said the city has 15 tickets scheduled to go to the provincial court in February and March alone. 

Richmond currently has 610 monthly short-term rentals listed. Since 2017, the city has identified 541 illegal rentals and 524 of them have ceased operations, according to the city.