Whistler is a special place. But it’s not just the world-class ski slopes, rugged beauty, and passionate residents that make Whistler unique. There are also rental rules that are specific to the resort municipality. Tourist accommodation in Whistler is regulated in order to protect the visitor and resident experience. If you’re planning to invest in a Whistler rental property, there are several things you need to know.
Whistler is one of Canada’s top tourist destinations year-round, so if you’re considering investing in a short-term rental property, you’re certainly looking in the right place. Over two million skiers, hikers, bikers, and casual tourists flock to Whistler every year, and they’ll be looking for somewhere to stay. The hottest short-term rentals are ski in ski out. Visitors want lift access right outside their door. But luckily, no matter where you stay in Whistler, the slopes are never too far away.
Whistler is not your typical real estate market. There are certain quirks to buying, selling, and renting. Keep reading for some need-to-know tips from Whistler real estate experts.
Rule #1 – Know your property
Phase 1 vs Phase 2
Let’s get a couple of definitions out of the way first. If you’ve already purchased a property in Whistler, the terms Phase 1 and Phase 2 will be familiar to you. If not, here’s a quick explanation. Phase 2 is a restrictive covenant placed on certain condo hotels, which restricts the owner use of your condo to 28 days in the winter and 28 days in the summer, for a maximum of 56 days per year. For the days you don’t stay, the hotel manages rentals – and gives you a share of the revenue. The hotel will deal with all of Whistler’s rental regulations. So, if you’re looking for a relatively easy-to-manage investment, Phase 2 is for you.
Now, if you’re looking for something with unlimited owner use and more rental flexibility, you’ll want a condo or townhome with Phase 1 covenants or a property without covenants. Once you find a property, additional zoning rules may apply. You can use the Regional Municipality of Whistler’s online map to check.
Rule #2 – Secure a business licence
Once you have ensured that your property has the correct zoning and covenants to be used as tourist accommodation, you’ll need to obtain a business licence. You cannot market and rent a property to tourists without the proper business licence, including advertising on sites like Airbnb or VRBO. If you rent without a business licence, it will be considered an illegal nightly rental, and you may be fined. Business licences are $190 a year, plus a small additional fee for each unit you own.
Rule #3 – Get insurance
A rental property is a significant investment, and as you open your doors to short-term guests, your property should be insured to minimize risks. Contact a property insurance provider to discuss your options.
Rule #4 – Set your policies
Think about how you’d like to manage your rental property. Should you implement a minimum stay policy? Can you allow pets? Some owners prefer to screen their guests before accepting rental reservations. Do you plan to do that? If so, how? You’ll have to decide which policies suit you best.
Rule #5 – Plan ahead
If you’re planning to use your rental property for personal use, it’s best to plan your dates well in advance. If you have a Phase 2 condo, you’ll need to provide the hotel with the dates you plan to stay. Also, consider the time commitment of managing a rental property. If you don’t want to do it all alone, think about hiring a property manager.
Rule #6 - Take advantage of online networks
Online rental tools such as Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway are where you’ll find the bulk of your guests (unless you buy a Phase 2 hotel condo unit, where you’re prohibited from marketing and managing your own rentals). Take the time to familiarize yourself with the various online rental networks and choose what works best for you. In Whistler, people often list their properties on more than one website.
Invest in Whistler with The Linnell Group
Short-term rentals in Whistler may seem tricky to manage. But trust us, it’s worth the effort. If you’re considering investing in Whistler, our experienced real estate agents are always happy to answer your questions and help you get started. Get in touch with us today!