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Salmon Arm, Canada Short-Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Salmon Arm, Canada

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What are Short-Term Rental (Airbnb, VRBO) Regulations in Salmon Arm, British Columbia?

Short-term rentals (STRs) like Airbnb and VRBO have become increasingly popular in recent years as an alternative to traditional tourist accommodations. However, many communities are grappling with how to regulate these rentals to balance the needs of residents, property owners, and visitors. Salmon Arm, British Columbia is one such community that has been working to establish clear rules around STRs.

Starting a Short-Term Rental Business in Salmon Arm

If you're considering starting a short-term rental business in Salmon Arm, the first step is to review the city's zoning regulations to determine if STRs are permitted on your property. The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD), which includes Salmon Arm, is encouraging STR owners to contact planning staff to confirm if their property is zoned for this use.

Currently, Salmon Arm's zoning bylaw does not explicitly address short-term rentals. However, tourist accommodation is allowed in certain areas with a valid business license. The city is in the process of updating its zoning bylaw to more clearly define and regulate where STRs are permitted.

Under the proposed changes, those wishing to pursue a short-term rental in Salmon Arm would either need to rezone their property or obtain a temporary use permit. Rezoning fees range from $700-$1400 plus additional costs for public hearings and signage. Temporary use permits, which are generally valid for 3 years with the possibility of one renewal, have a $500 application fee.

All short-term rentals, including bed and breakfasts, must obtain a business license from the city. STR operators are also required to collect and remit the 8% provincial sales tax (PST) and a 2-3% municipal and regional district tax (MRDT) on all guest stays.

One Salmon Arm resident expressed frustration with the current lack of controls on short-term rentals in the city, writing to the city council with concerns that "Airbnb rentals do nothing to alleviate the housing crisis and take away from the available rental stock". This sentiment reflects the challenge many communities face in balancing the benefits of STRs with their impact on long-term rental availability and housing affordability.

Short-Term Rental Licensing Requirements in Salmon Arm

To legally operate a short-term rental in Salmon Arm, property owners must obtain a valid business license from the city. The application process involves submitting a completed Business License Application form, along with the following supporting documents:

  • Proof of ownership or a signed Property Owner Consent Form if the applicant is not the property owner
  • A site plan showing parking spaces, the dwelling to be used for the STR, and any accessory buildings on the property
  • Floor plans indicating which rooms will be rented and the location of smoke alarms
  • Proof of sufficient liability insurance coverage

If applicable, copies of other required permits (e.g. Interior Health approval for food service)

Business license applications can be submitted in person at City Hall (500 2nd Avenue NE) or by email to [email protected]. The annual license fee for an STR is $180, plus a one-time $25 application processing fee. Licenses are valid for one year, from January 1 to December 31, and must be renewed annually.

The city's Business License Inspector typically processes applications within 2-4 weeks. Once approved, the license must be prominently displayed in the STR unit.

Operating an STR without a valid business license is an offense under the city's Business License Bylaw No. 2119. Violators may be subject to fines of $100 per day for each day the offense continues. The city also has the authority to suspend or cancel a business license if the holder fails to comply with the bylaw's requirements.

It's important to note that obtaining a business license does not guarantee the right to operate an STR. Property owners must also ensure their STR complies with the city's zoning regulations, which are currently being updated to provide clearer rules for short-term rentals. Under the proposed changes, an approved rezoning or temporary use permit may be required in addition to the business license.

By following the city's licensing requirements and staying informed of evolving STR regulations, property owners can ensure they are operating their short-term rental legally and responsibly in Salmon Arm.

Required Documents for Salmon Arm Short-Term Rentals

To apply for a short-term rental (STR) business license in Salmon Arm, property owners must submit the following documents:

Business License Application Form: This form collects basic information about the applicant, the property, and the proposed STR. It can be obtained from the city's Business Licensing department or downloaded from their website.

Proof of Ownership or Property Owner Consent Form: If the applicant is the property owner, they must provide a copy of the title or other proof of ownership. If the applicant is not the owner, they must submit a signed Property Owner Consent Form indicating the owner's permission to operate an STR on the property.

Site Plan: A detailed site plan must be submitted showing the location and dimensions of the dwelling to be used for the STR, any accessory buildings on the property, and designated parking spaces. The site plan helps city staff ensure the STR complies with zoning and parking requirements.

Floor Plans: Floor plans of the STR unit are required, clearly indicating which rooms will be rented and the location of smoke alarms. These plans help verify the STR meets building code and safety standards.

Proof of Insurance: The applicant must provide proof of sufficient liability insurance coverage for the STR. This protects both the property owner and guests in case of accidents or damages.

Additional Permits (if applicable): Depending on the nature of the STR, additional permits may be required. For example, if food service is offered, approval from Interior Health may be necessary.

These documents, along with the completed Business License Application and applicable fees, must be submitted to the city's Business Licensing department either in person at City Hall or by email to [email protected].

The city's zoning bylaw is currently being updated to provide clearer regulations for STRs. Under the proposed changes, property owners may also need to obtain an approved rezoning or temporary use permit in addition to the business license. As requirements evolve, it's important for STR operators to stay informed and ensure they have all necessary approvals in place.

By carefully compiling and submitting the required documents, property owners can demonstrate their commitment to operating a safe, legal, and responsible short-term rental in Salmon Arm.

Salmon Arm Short-Term Rental Taxes

As a short-term rental operator in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, it's important to understand and comply with the applicable tax requirements. The two main taxes that apply to short-term rentals in the city are the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT).

Provincial Sales Tax (PST)

The PST is an 8% tax that applies to all short-term accommodations in British Columbia, including those in Salmon Arm. This tax is charged on the total purchase price of the accommodation, which includes any additional fees such as cleaning or booking fees.

As a short-term rental operator, you are responsible for collecting the PST from your guests and remitting it to the provincial government on a regular basis. Failure to collect and remit the PST can result in penalties and interest charges.

Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT)

In addition to the PST, Salmon Arm also charges a Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) on short-term accommodations. The MRDT rate in Salmon Arm is currently 2%.

Like the PST, the MRDT is charged on the total purchase price of the accommodation and must be collected by the operator and remitted to the government. The revenue generated from the MRDT is used to fund tourism marketing, programs, and projects in the region.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

While not specific to Salmon Arm, it's important to note that the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5% also applies to short-term rentals. This means that as an operator, you will need to collect and remit a total of 15% in taxes on your short-term rental income (8% PST + 2% MRDT + 5% GST).

Potential Deductions and Write-Offs

As a short-term rental operator, you may be eligible for certain deductions and write-offs that can help reduce your tax liability. Some potential deductions include:

  1. Mortgage interest
  2. Property taxes
  3. Utilities
  4. Cleaning and maintenance costs
  5. Supplies and amenities provided to guests
  6. Advertising and marketing expenses
  7. Accounting and legal fees

It's important to keep accurate records of all your expenses related to your short-term rental business, as this will make it easier to claim deductions come tax time. Consulting with a tax professional can also help ensure you are taking advantage of all available deductions and minimizing your tax liability.

By understanding and complying with the tax requirements for short-term rentals in Salmon Arm, you can avoid potential penalties and run a successful, legally-compliant rental business.

British Columbia's Province-Wide Short-Term Rental Rules

In addition to municipal regulations, short-term rental hosts in Salmon Arm must also comply with new province-wide rules introduced by the British Columbia government. The Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act, passed in October 2023, aims to return more short-term rental units to the long-term housing market and provide local governments with stronger enforcement tools.

Principal Residence Requirement

Effective May 1, 2024, short-term rentals in B.C. will be restricted to a host's principal residence, plus one additional unit, secondary suite, or accessory dwelling unit (like a laneway or garden suite) on the same property. This requirement applies to communities with populations over 10,000, which includes Salmon Arm.

Some exemptions apply, such as for mountain resorts, B.C. Parks resorts, Islands Trust areas, and agricultural land. Local governments can also request to opt out of the principal residence requirement if they maintain a rental vacancy rate of 3% or higher for two consecutive years.

Business License Display

Also, starting May 1, 2024, short-term rental hosts must display a valid business license number on their listings in areas where a business license is required by the local government. Platforms like Airbnb and VRBO will be required to remove listings that do not comply with local business license requirements.

Increased Fines

The Act has increased the maximum fine for prosecution of bylaw offenses from $2,000 to $50,000 for regional districts, consistent with municipal limits. The maximum municipal ticketing fine has also increased from $1,000 to $3,000 per infraction per day, applicable in municipalities, regional districts, and Islands Trust areas.

Provincial Registry

By late 2024 or early 2025, the province plans to establish a short-term rental registry. Hosts will be required to include their provincial registration number on listings, and booking platforms must validate these numbers against the registry data. A new compliance and enforcement unit will be created to ensure hosts and platforms are following the rules.

Data Sharing

Beginning in the summer of 2024, short-term rental platforms will be required to share data about B.C.-based listings with the provincial government on a monthly basis. This confidential information will assist local governments with bylaw enforcement.

Salmon Arm hosts should stay informed of these evolving provincial regulations and ensure compliance to avoid potential penalties. The province is implementing these changes in phases over two years, with key milestones taking effect on May 1, 2024, and the registry launch expected by early 2025. By working together with local governments, the B.C. government aims to protect long-term rental stock while still allowing responsible short-term rental operations.

Does Salmon Arm Strictly Enforce STR Rules?

Based on discussions in real estate investing forums like BiggerPockets and Reddit, it appears that Salmon Arm has not historically had strict enforcement of short-term rental regulations compared to some other cities in British Columbia. Many hosts have been operating STRs in Salmon Arm despite not being fully compliant with zoning and licensing requirements.

However, this is likely to change in the near future as the province implements its new Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act. Starting May 1, 2024, all STR hosts in BC will be required to register with the provincial government and display a valid license number on their listings. Booking platforms like Airbnb and VRBO must remove any listings that fail to comply.

While Salmon Arm and other regional district electoral areas are currently exempt from the Act's principal residence requirement (which limits STRs to the host's primary home plus one additional unit), the city can choose to opt-in to these rules at any time. The province is also establishing a new compliance and enforcement unit to ensure STR operators are following the regulations.

This means that even if Salmon Arm has been relatively Airbnb-friendly in the past, the landscape is shifting. Hosts who continue to operate without proper zoning approvals, business licenses, and provincial registration will face a much higher risk of fines and penalties going forward.

On the BiggerPockets forums, several local investors have expressed concerns about how the new rules will be enforced and whether it will still be viable to operate STRs in Salmon Arm. Some have indicated they plan to sell their rental properties rather than try to navigate the changing regulatory environment.

In summary, while Salmon Arm may have been somewhat lax on STR enforcement historically, this is unlikely to continue as BC's new legislation takes effect. Hosts who have been operating under the radar will need to get compliant or face potentially serious consequences. The days of Salmon Arm being an "Airbnb friendly" city with minimal oversight appear to be coming to an end.

How to Start a Short-Term Rental Business in Salmon Arm

Starting a short-term rental business in Salmon Arm requires careful planning and compliance with both municipal and provincial regulations. Follow these steps to successfully launch your STR:

  1. Determine if your property is zoned for short-term rentals: Contact the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) planning staff to review the zoning regulations that apply to your property and confirm if an STR is permitted. If an STR is not allowed, you may need to rezone your property or obtain a temporary use permit.
  2. Obtain necessary permits and licenses: If your property is zoned for STRs, apply for a business license from the City of Salmon Arm. Submit the required documents, such as proof of ownership, site plan, floor plans, and proof of insurance. Pay the annual license fee of $180 plus a one-time $25 application processing fee.
  3. Register with the provincial STR registry (once available): By late 2024 or early 2025, you'll need to register your STR with the new provincial registry. Include your registration number on all listings. Platforms like Airbnb and VRBO will be required to validate these numbers.
  4. Ensure compliance with the principal residence requirement: As of May 1, 2024, STRs in BC are limited to the host's principal residence plus one secondary suite or accessory dwelling unit on the same property. Confirm that your STR meets this criteria.
  5. Set up your space: Furnish and decorate your STR to create an inviting atmosphere for guests. Provide essential amenities, such as linens, towels, and kitchen supplies. Consider hiring a professional photographer to showcase your property in its best light.
  6. Establish house rules and policies: Clearly outline your expectations for guests, including check-in/check-out times, maximum occupancy, noise levels, and pet policies. Develop a thorough cleaning and maintenance schedule to ensure your STR remains in top condition.
  7. Price your rental competitively: Research similar STRs in Salmon Arm to determine a competitive nightly rate. Consider factors like seasonality, amenities, and location when setting your prices. Utilize dynamic pricing tools to automatically adjust rates based on demand.
  8. List your property on STR platforms: Create listings on popular platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. Write compelling descriptions, highlight unique features, and include high-quality photos. Ensure your business license number is displayed on all listings.
  9. Manage bookings and guest communication: Respond promptly to inquiries and booking requests. Provide clear check-in instructions and maintain open communication with guests throughout their stay. Consider using a property management software to streamline reservations and guest interactions.
  10. Collect and remit taxes: STR operators in Salmon Arm must collect and remit the 8% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and the 2% Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) on all bookings. Keep accurate records of your income and expenses for tax purposes.

Tips for success:

  1. Prioritize guest experience by providing exceptional customer service and maintaining a clean, well-appointed space.
  2. Encourage guests to leave reviews to build your reputation and attract future bookings.
  3. Stay informed about evolving municipal and provincial STR regulations to ensure ongoing compliance.
  4. Network with other STR operators in Salmon Arm to share best practices and stay up-to-date on industry trends.
  5. Consider partnering with local businesses, such as tour operators or restaurants, to offer unique experiences for your guests.

By following these steps and implementing the tips provided, you'll be well on your way to launching a successful short-term rental business in Salmon Arm. Remember to stay adaptable and responsive to changes in the regulatory landscape and market conditions.

Who to Contact in Salmon Arm about Short-Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

If you have questions about short-term rental regulations and zoning in Salmon Arm, the best place to start is by contacting the city's Development Services Department:

Development Services Department

  1. City of Salmon Arm
  2. 500 2nd Avenue NE
  3. Box 40
  4. Salmon Arm, BC V1E 4N2
  5. Phone: 250-803-4000

The Development Services staff can review zoning regulations with you and confirm if a short-term rental is permitted on your property. They can also explain your options for seeking city approval, such as a Temporary Use Permit or zoning amendment, if an STR is not currently allowed.

For questions related specifically to business licensing for your short-term rental, contact the city's Business Licensing department:

Business Licensing

  1. City of Salmon Arm
  2. 500 2nd Avenue NE
  3. Box 40
  4. Salmon Arm, BC V1E 4N2
  5. Phone: 250-803-4000

In addition to city resources, connecting with other short-term rental hosts in Salmon Arm and the surrounding region can be helpful for navigating local regulations and sharing best practices. Some online communities to check out include:

  1. The Shuswap Vacation Rentals Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/shuswapvacationrentals/
  2. The Interior BC Airbnb Hosts Forum on Airhostsforum.com: https://airhostsforum.com/c/canada/interior-bc/49
  3. The Canada Airbnb Hosts subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/AirBnBHosts_Canada/

These forums and groups can be a great place to ask questions, share experiences, and stay up-to-date on any regulatory changes impacting short-term rentals in Salmon Arm and throughout British Columbia.

As the short-term rental landscape continues to evolve, with new provincial legislation set to take effect in the coming years, it's important for hosts to stay informed and engaged with both local officials and the broader STR community. By working together and staying on top of the latest developments, Salmon Arm's short-term rental operators can ensure they are running safe, responsible, and compliant businesses.

Disclaimer: While we here at BNBCalc strive to keep all of our city regulation guides updated and accurate with all the latest local laws, we still do not suggest using them as your sole or primary source for local regulations. We also do not recommend you rely on the third-party sources we link to or reference, and we are not responsible for any of the information on these third-party sites. These guides are for entertainment purposes only and only provide basic information and should not be considered as legal advice.

We highly recommend directly contacting the responsible parties for each city and hearing what their officials have to say. Ultimately, it's your responsibility as an investor to ensure you fully comply with the local laws, and it's best to speak with professionals before making an investment decision.

⚡️
Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.