Cheap, short-term rental accommodations through companies like
Airbnb Inc. are popular for travelers and condominium owners,
however they are not as appealing for condo corporations when they
occur in their condo complexes. Short-term renters have less reason
to be invested in the security, safety and comfort of the occupants
residing in the complex or in the security of the property itself
(see the CBC article "Airbnb Nightmare Renters Leave Calgary
Although Airbnb and similar short-term rental organizations are
currently legal in all provinces, their future may be quite
different. Quebec is looking to regulate and tax this business, as
are several cities in the USA. The remainder of the Canadian
provinces will likely follow.
Should this type of business become regulated, hosts may be
required to obtain various permits or meet certain standards under
local laws or bylaws. Condo corporations should carefully consider
whether or not this will put them in breach of these laws, should
the host fail to abide by all applicable laws.
The Downside for Condo Companies
In Alberta, the Condominium Property Act and the Court
of Queen's Bench do not support any bylaw, regulation, policy
or rule which attempts to curtail, prevent or restrict a unit
owner's ability to lease their unit. Reconsideration of the
court's decision has been allowed. Should an appeal of this
decision be successful, condo corporations may be permitted to
curtail the leasing rights of unit owners.
What Condo Companies Can Do
Alberta courts have upheld bylaws which restrict a unit
owner's use of their unit or the common areas in the complex or
both, such as bylaws which restrict the unit owner's use of the
unit to a "single family dwelling". Although it is not
uncommon for an owner to share their condo with friends, the
Alberta Court of Queen's Bench held that there is a difference
between an owner allowing a few friends to stay in the unit as
opposed to using the unit as a resort club, with a number of
different families on a rotational basis.
Condo corporation bylaws may also disallow an owner from using
their unit or the common area for a commercial venture. If the unit
owner is advertising their unit online and frequently renting off
Airbnb or like businesses, this activity may be classified as a
commercial activity. The ABQB has held that resort clubs,
hotel-like activity and timeshare-like activity in either the unit
or common areas or both are, in essence, a commercial venture and
will breach such a bylaw.
Condo corporations should enforce strict compliance with the
bylaws by including a separate bylaw which requires strict
compliance with all bylaws and prohibits waiver of bylaws by the
condo corporation to ensure these bylaws will be upheld. Language
in such bylaws and rules should be considered carefully and include
the specific activities which will be prohibited.
Airbnb and similar companies are recent developments which have
not yet been regulated in any provinces. Condo corporations who
wish to keep this type of renting activity out of their complex may
want to consider re-writing their bylaws, regulations, rules, or
policies in a manner which effectively stops this activity.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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