Delta’s current zoning doesn’t prohibit short-term rentals.
That was the response from city staff to a recent complaint from a Ladner resident who wrote to Delta council asking when the city would look into Airbnb operating in single-family neighbourhoods.
Noting owners of licensed bed and breakfasts who follow regulations and pay taxes are also concerned, Martha Cheney said she’s aware of at least two houses on her block operating basically like hotels.
Saying Airbnbs are also hurting the rental supply, Cheney noted, “It irks me to think that people are running a big businesses out of these ‘homes’ and yet pay nothing, unlike other small business self-employed people like me who have to jump through all the hoops and pay for licenses, etc.”
She said her neighbourhood is zoned for residential, not commercial or hotel, and urged the city to start enforcing zoning bylaws.
“The city needs to wake up and start regulating and limiting where these can be. I’m fine with someone renting a room or small suite in their home they live in, at least it is still a residence in those cases.”
The response from staff notes that while current zoning doesn’t prohibit short-term rentals, property owners are restricted to renting to no greater than two persons in an occupied home.
“These two persons would be considered boarders under our present zoning. A property owner may also rent an entire home to a family or four unrelated persons. If the home has a legal suite, the owner may in addition rent the suite as well to a family or four unrelated persons again on a short-term basis,” the staff response explains.
Staff also noted they’ve confirmed someone named Olga Steel is advertising five Delta residences, some with suites. A bylaw inspector has been assigned to ensure they comply with Delta’s zoning.
In a letter to council last year, Steel noted she had been renting in Ladner since she moved to the community 12 years earlier and a few years ago decided to rent an entire house, which they were allowed to sublet.
In 2017, they decided invest in furniture and décor for a suite to put it on Airbnb “to try help make living in Ladner more affordable for our family.”
She noted they were “pleasantly surprised at the demand. While many guests were travelers and tourist, others were local couples/families who needed something short term because of a renovation they were doing, while other guests were families from Korea whose children were part of the international student exchange program. All of these guests had a need for something short term in Ladner. All of them were so thankful for the option to be able to stay in Ladner at our place whether it was for one night or for three months.”
Steel also noted they decided to expand their business because of the demand.
“The other properties that we make available are rented by us off of owners who like the fact that we are stable tenants, we invest money/time/energy into making sure their home is in top shape for guests, and that their home gets cleaned regularly and has an active eye on it all times,” Steel explained.
Outlining several reasons why short term rentals are positive for the community, Steel noted, “After hosting nearly 1,000 guests in Ladner alone since July 2017, I can tell you that the response to our service has been overwhelmingly positive from local residents.”