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July 20, 2017, 12:23 pm

Business Licences Required for Whistler Vacation Rental Properties

Resort Municipality of Whistler

WHISTLER – The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has adopted a new tourist accommodation regulation bylaw, which explicitly extends Whistler’s business licence requirement to all tourist accommodation business activity.

What this means is that a business licence is now required to market and provide accommodation for nightly rental. The requirement is extended to all vacation rentals, including self-managed tourist accommodation properties.  

“This gives the municipality a better tool for monitoring and enforcing our policy of not allowing nightly rentals in residential areas,” said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. “Licensing also provides assurances to visitors that the accommodations they are booking are being rented legally.
She added, “Properties without proper zoning for nightly rentals won’t be able to obtain a business licence, and without a business licence a property owner may be fined up to $1,000 per day for either marketing or providing illegal tourist accommodation.”

Information about tourist accommodation regulations, including a list of zones that permit some form of tourist accommodation use, and covenants that may apply can be found at whistler.ca/touristaccommodation.

The bylaw clarifies licensing requirements and makes it illegal to either market or provide tourist accommodation without a business licence. A business licence will not be issued without proper zoning. Operating without a business licence is a contravention of the bylaw and may be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 per infraction per day.  

An individual vacation rental owner marketing and providing their own unit(s) solely through a property manager is covered under the property manager’s licence. Owners undertaking any marketing or rental activity independently for properties where this is permitted require a separate business licence, whether or not they are also using property management services. Only one licence is required per owner, even if that owner owns multiple units (i.e. a separate licence is not required for each unit; however, there is a $10 charge for each additional unit).

The bylaw also includes requirements for properties defined to be hotels, including properties with Phase 2 rental pools. For these properties, the bylaw permits only one licence per hotel property to reinforce the requirement for an integrated property management model.

Find background information about the Tourist Accommodation Review, including the new Council policy, other related bylaws and an overview of how the regulatory mechanisms affect various property types in Whistler at www.whistler.ca/TAreview.

Why is this change being implemented?
The intent of this change is to enable the RMOW to better address illegal nightly rentals in residential areas, which is impacting housing availability, neighbourhood character, and properties that are zoned for tourist accommodation.

Extending the business licence requirement to all tourist accommodation units being marketed or provided in Whistler is consistent with the intent of the existing Business Licence Bylaw, which applies to anyone operating a business in Whistler.

When does this take effect?
The business licence requirement for all tourist accommodation business activity is now in effect. Property owners, who have previously conducted tourist accommodation business without a licence, including self-management of their own unit(s), are now required to obtain a licence.

How do I apply for a business licence?
Visit whistler.ca/businesslicences to complete a tourist accommodation business licence application.

How much does it cost?
Business licence fees are $165 annually, plus $10 per additional accommodation unit that is operated by one licence holder.
For 2017, the fee will be prorated for the remainder of the year, and then renewals occur annually beginning January 1 of each year. 

Does this affect tourist accommodation properties that already require business licences?
As before, hotels, hostels, pensions, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, recreational vehicle parks, and property managers with multiple units under their management are only required to have one licence, with an annual fee of $165 and a $10 charge for each additional unit of accommodation.

How does this affect enforcement of illegal nightly rentals?
The bylaw enhances the municipality’s ability to enforce against illegal nightly rentals, because enforcement may be done based on illegal marketing, rather than requiring proof of rental activity having taken place. Contravention of the bylaw may be subject to fines of up to $1,000 per infraction per day. Business licence fees for tourist accommodation may help to fund additional bylaw enforcement.

According to Council policy, enforcement of municipal bylaws is conducted by Bylaw Services on a complaint basis. Report illegal nightly rentals by emailing bylawservices@whistler.ca

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