A quick search on AirBnB will show you that there are more than 300 properties available for short term rental in West Kelowna and 117 on Westbank First Nation Land, all operating illegally.
Unlike the City of Kelowna, neither community has a bylaw in place to allow and regulate these short term rentals.
In July 2019, Kelowna introduced a short-term rental bylaw that would allow a homeowner or primary resident to legally rent their principal residence for a period of 29 days or less. The business licence fees cost owners a few hundred dollars and allow them to advertise their property on a rental site such as AirBnB or VROB.
With the introduction of the new rules on this side of the bridge, many in West Kelowna thought it wouldn’t be long before the City looked into a short-term rental bylaw as well, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Currently in West Kelowna, no short term rentals under one month are allowed in the city.
“Our bylaw indicates you can rent for a month or more,” explains City of West Kelowna Communications Manager Kirsten Jones. “We are complaint based bylaw enforcement, if a complaint comes in it is investigated and followed through.
Last year, the City conducted some proactive enforcement around short term rentals and a total of 62 files were opened. Of those files, 37 came in as complaints from the public and 25 from the officers themselves. Although 20 per cent of the current listings on sites such as VROB and AirBnB were investigated, Jones says there is currently no bylaw being developed.
Jones says residents who have concerns about short term rentals can contact bylaw with their complaints, leaving the onus on them to have proof that the infractions are taking place. This could be as simple as reporting a listing to officials.
The City of West Kelowna says they are aware of the issue and are working diligently when complaints come in, but are not currently working on developing a plan to deal with the illegal listings.
On Westbank First Nation (WFN) land, it’s unclear what they are doing to combat the short term leases. We reached out to the WFN several times via phone and email for comment, but calls were not returned.
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