Letters: Richmond's new bylaw rules will allow even more STRs

Dear Editor,

Re: “Richmond tightens up short-term rental rules,” News, Nov. 28.

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It is misleading to call the city’s proposed bylaws on boarding and lodging as a tightening of short-term rentals (STRs).

If the proposed bylaws pass without additional constraints, it will allow many more short-term rentals to operate in every neighbourhood, making Richmond’s housing market even less affordable.

The proposed boarding and lodging regulation is much more permissive than the city’s regulation for bed and breakfasts (B&B).

B&B operations are confined to single-family homes, and have to be separated from another bed and breakfast by 500 metres. However, STRs can operate in all kinds of dwellings and do not have a minimum separation requirement.

Additionally, B&B operators have to be the owner of the house (or a family member) living full-time in the house. Again, that’s not the case for STRs. A renter, with permission of the property owner and strata (if applicable), can operate a boarding and lodging business under these proposed regulations.

The city has implied that this new STR policy will allow many vacant properties to become long-term rental units, by allowing the renter to earn some income through short-term rentals.

However, it may have the opposite effect because now, in addition to living and working in the city, a renter may also need to run a boarding and lodging operation. Those unwilling or unable to do this will likely not get the housing.

Market rental vacancy rates are already low in Richmond (0.7%) and, according to a Sept. 17 article in the Richmond News, Richmond Centre is the least affordable riding in Canada.

In this scenario, renters do not have much bargaining power.

Furthermore, this STR policy will allow property owners to avoid the provincial speculation and vacancy tax without providing any long-term housing options.

These proposed STR regulations will be up for a final vote at the public hearing on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. Please write to the mayor and council and come to the public hearing.

Niti Sharma

RICHMOND

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