Municipality encourages property owners to sign up for hassle free rentals
January 31, 2017: Whistler, B.C. – This winter, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), through the Mayor’s Task Force on Resident Housing, has announced a number of initiatives aimed at bolstering its resident housing supply including a property and business matching service, increased illegal nightly rental enforcement and additional resident restricted rental housing.
“Through the task force and a community wide effort, we are focused on continuing to develop new and innovative ways to ensure that those who work in our community are housed,” said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. “A number of factors have brought this issue to a head ranging from different uses of residential homes, increased housing pressure in our neighbouring communities and our continued economic success.”
The Home Run program is aimed at matching residential property owners, who have vacant space, with local business owners for workforce housing. The goal of the program is to provide owners with a low risk option to earn rental income from their properties, while helping local business owners find stable, longer-term rentals for their workforce. The property rental program is administered by the Whistler Housing Authority. To date, 24 property owners have expressed interest in the program along with 36 businesses looking to house approximately 300 workers. As the leaseholder, business owners with their staff, will take full responsibility for ensuring the maintenance and upkeep of the property for owners. Property owners with an unoccupied home, suite or room can register or get more information for Home Run at www.whistlerhousing.ca.
“By matching vacant properties and suites and providing owners with the assurance that comes from signing a lease with a local business, we hope to add to Whistler’s housing supply a number of long-term, stable housing options,” said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. “We know that Whistler property owners are looking at various ways to help finance their investment. The task force recommended the Home Run program to make it easy to rent to Whistler employees and be in compliance with local bylaws.”
The municipality is also increasing enforcement of nightly rentals of properties that are not zoned for this use. It has investigated 26 properties in the past year and this month took legal action against a property owner who was renting their residential property to tourists. An online tool found at www.whistler.ca/housing enables property owners to easily check whether their home’s zoning permits nightly rentals. Whistler has approximately 8,800 nightly accommodation units in hotels, lodges, inns, condos, townhomes, detached dwellings, bed and breakfasts, pensions, hostels and camping areas.
Compared to other North American mountain resort communities, Whistler does extremely well at housing its workforce within its boundaries. Whistler has been meeting its goal of housing at least 75 percent of the local workforce within the resort community for the last 13 years. There is an inventory of over 6,400 beds of affordable housing restricted to Whistler’s workforce, and the Whistler Housing Authority has recently announced additional funding from the British Columbia government toward building a new employee rental housing project. This building is expected to be ready for occupancy later this year. Preliminary designs for a second building are underway, and a third lot is expected to be developed for rental housing. Together, the three projects will add approximately 250 beds to Whistler’s employee housing inventory. There is additional housing managed by local businesses for their staff; however, more housing is still needed for the current workforce.
Chief Administrative Officer Mike Furey presented updates on housing in Whistler to Council in October, and Council also approved terms of reference for the Mayor’s Task Force on Resident Housing. The Task Force membership includes representation from the Whistler Housing Authority, Resort Municipality of Whistler, Whistler Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler, Whistler Chamber of Commerce, Whistler Community Services Society, Hotel Association of Whistler, Restaurant Association of Whistler, Real Estate Association of Whistler, Whistler Association of Retailers and Merchants, as well as community members appointed by Council.