New city procedures target illegal rentals, unsightly premises

It's that house down the block so many in Revelstoke know about. Nobody seems to live there, but during the winter it's a hive of activity, with new cars and new faces coming and going every few days. They pack up their skis, sleds or snowboards first thing in the morning and return home rosy-cheeked near sundown. The City of Revelstoke is looking to put a stop to it.

It’s that house down the block so many in Revelstoke know about. Nobody seems to live there, but during the winter it’s a hive of activity, with new cars and new faces coming and going every few days. They pack up their skis, sleds or snowboards first thing in the morning and return home rosy-cheeked near sundown. The City of Revelstoke is looking to put a stop to it.

A long-discussed crackdown on a variety of illegal rentals in Revelstoke is on the horizon.

City council will review proposed new enforcement procedures at their regular meeting on May 24.

Illegal rentals

The first new policy targets residences that are illegally advertising their homes as short-term vacation rentals, as well as illegal suites and those running illegal boarding homes.

Spend a couple minutes searching Google for Revelstoke vacation rentals and you’ll have no problem finding homes being rented out on a daily or weekly basis, which is not allowed.

Another issue is landlords who treat their rental properties like boarding homes, packing tenants in on a per-room basis. The other is bed and breakfasts who don’t conform to the requirements of their license — such as providing a kitchen instead of cooking breakfast for their guests.

The new policy, which has been in development for over a year, is designed to be a more streamlined and efficient approach to deal with Revelstoke’s burgeoning illegal rental market.

“Staff has completed a procedure for enforcement of rental property,” city planning director John Guenther writes in a report accompanying the new procedure. He says the procedure “should gain higher rates of compliance without resorting to court injunctions.”

The new procedure expands on the existing complaints-based system. Staff will now establish a database, including taking note of advertisements posted online.

Next, they’ll do a site inspection. This will be followed by a series of letters urging compliance, or else.

Penalties include a threat of $200 a day fines for non-compliant properties. The final letter from a city lawyer warns violators to comply or they’ll be taken to court — and the threat they’ll be on the hook for the city’s legal costs in the case.

Unsightly premises

The new unsightly premises procedure comes attached as part of the same council agenda package.

It targets infractions such as broken down cars on front lawns.

After an inspection, violators will be given a notice and a minimum of 14 days to deal with the issue. If the issue isn’t resolved after a second inspection, city staff will then take steps to have the issue resolved by city staff or a contractor. The property owner will be billed for the costs.

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Both policies will be discussed for the first time at the May 24 city council regular meeting.