Tourist accommodation is regulated in Whistler to protect Whistler’s visitor accommodation bed base, the viability of the tourist accommodation sector, the visitor experience, housing for residents and neighbourhood character.
Tourist Accommodation Business Regulations
The RMOW Tourist Accommodation Regulation Bylaw No. 2142, 2017 requires business licences for all tourist accommodation activity, including the marketing of properties/units. If your unit is rented solely through a property management company, you are covered by their business licence. All other tourist accommodation owners marketing their unit(s) or providing any related services are required to obtain a licence. Find more information about business licences for tourist accommodation activity.
For certain hotels and properties with a Phase 2 rental pool covenant, a single business licence is required for the single, integrated rental pool managing all accommodation units within the property. Business licences will not be issued for individual units in these properties and individual units would not be permitted to be booked or rented outside of the single, integrated rental pool. These properties are listed in Table 5B in section 19 of Part 5 of the Zoning and Parking Bylaw No. 303, 2015. These properties must also provide services that are considered to be essential to the visitor experience including 24 hour lobby and front desk services, a uniform key entry system, housekeeping and building maintenance services and a central telephone system.
Check Your Property’s Zoning or LUC
To obtain a business licence and market a property as tourist accommodation, the property’s zoning must list tourist accommodation or temporary accommodation as a permitted use. Properties with residential zoning may not be marketed as available to tourists, for any length of time.
You can use the RMOW’s online GIS mapping system to determine your property’s zoning or land use contract (LUC).
- View the RMOW’s online map.
- Enter a property address or place the cursor over the property on the GIS map.
- If the zoning category information displays “LUC”, the property is subject to a land use contract. You will need to contact the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) to obtain the LUC. You can then review the LUC to determine if temporary tourist accommodation is permitted on the property. You may contact lawyers, notaries, land surveyors or independent registry agents to obtain documents from the LTSA. The LTSA provides links to contact information.
- If a zoning category is displayed, you can click on the link to take you directly to that zone in Zoning and Parking Bylaw No. 303, 2015. You can then review the “Permitted Uses” to determine if temporary tourist accommodation is allowed in the zone. A zone must include in its “Permitted Uses” section the defined term “tourist accommodation” or a specific clause of permission for a building or dwelling unit to be used for temporary lodging by visitors. See the “Zoning Bylaw Definitions” section below for more information.
The RMOW’s online GIS mapping system also provides a layer that shows zones and land use contract areas with tourist accommodation permitted uses. This layer can be activated by selecting “Zoned for Nightly Rental” under “Property”. Please note that this layer is a guide and you still need to check the applicable zoning or land use contract for the specifics of the permitted tourist accommodation use.
Check Your Property’s Covenants
It is also necessary to give consideration to registered covenants that may affect a property. Development, rental pool and other covenants may place restrictions and obligations on property use. These are registered on the title of the property.
In general, there are two main types of rental pool covenants: Phase 1 and Phase 2 covenants.
- Phase 1 rental pool covenants are less restrictive than Phase 2 rental pool covenants. Phase 1 covenants are intended to maximize occupancy of properties for use by owners and visitors. When not in owner use, the covenants generally require the accommodation units be made available to the public through a rental pool. For properties where the covenant does not specify a single, integrated rental pool, RMOW Council policy supports multiple rental booking and unit management arrangements within a property, including the self-management rental of units by owners.
- Phase 2 rental pool covenants require that all units must be available for commercial rental to the public at all times except for limited owner use. Owners have a basic allotment for personal use of their unit, limited to 28 days for a defined summer period and 28 days for a defined winter period. Terms specifying how and when owners may use their basic allotment are detailed in the covenants. The terms also specify opportunities for additional owner use. Every accommodation unit on the property must be placed or listed in a single, integrated rental pool, as selected by the strata owners, through which the units will be made available for rental to the public. This provides for the orderly and assured management of reservations and use of units by the public and unit owners.
The Tourist Accommodation Regulation Bylaw No. 2142, 2017 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.
Title searches and covenants are available from the LTSA. You may contact lawyers, notaries, land surveyors or independent registry agents to obtain documents from the LTSA. The LTSA provides links to contact information(link is external)
The schedules in the Council Policy list tourist accommodation properties with Phase 2, Phase 1 and no rental pool covenants. These schedules contain the best available information at this time and updates may occur in the future.
Zoning Bylaw Definitions
As per Zoning and Parking Bylaw No. 303, 2015, apartments, auxiliary dwelling units as well as detached, duplex and townhouse dwellings contain the defined term “residential” within their definitions, which specifically excludes any temporary accommodations and further restricts their use as a fixed place of living to which a person intends to return when absent. Therefore, by definition, most residentially zoned properties (e.g. RS, RM, RR, RSE zones) do not permit tourist accommodation use (e.g. nightly rentals) of any length of time including 30 days or longer. In addition, employee housing units are not permitted to be rented as temporary tourist accommodation. Another relevant definition from Zoning and Parking Bylaw No. 303, 2015 is that “temporary” means a total of less than four consecutive weeks in a calendar year.
File a complaint with Bylaw Services, if you are a resident concerned about an illegal nightly rental in your neighbourhood.