A recent BC Supreme Court Decision highlights the importance of reviewing local zoning bylaws before completing a purchase of a recreational property in British Columbia.
By way of background, two owners of waterfront properties on Red Lake, BC (about 50 km northwest of Kamloops) fought an action by Thompson-Nicola Regional District (“TNRD”) seeking an injunction restraining them from using their properties as short-term rentals. The properties had originally been bought in April 2008 and were used since that time as recreational properties and for short-term rentals. In 2012, however, new bylaws were approved restricting short-term rentals in the area. While grandfather provisions were adopted allowing a previously permitted use to continue in effect, the previous bylaws were silent on whether short-term rentals were permitted. In deciding for TNRD, the court concluded that short-term rentals were never a permitted use and ordered that the defendants cease all short-term rentals of their recreational properties.
One of the key takeaways from this decision is that, while its important to ensure that the proposed use of a property is not restricted by local zoning bylaws before you complete a purchase of a recreational property, its also important to ensure that the proposed use, in this case short term rental, is expressly permitted. Otherwise there is a greater risk that the proposed use is not permitted and that local bylaws may become more restrictive over time.