Property management company happy to comply with bylaw
Whistler Platinum Realty must keep its books open for municipal review after getting caught illegally renting residentially zoned properties.
A four-month investigation uncovered evidence that the local property management company was renting residentially zoned properties for short-term leases less than 30 days in violation of a municipal zoning bylaw.
Whistler Platinum has reached an amicable agreement with the municipality and has willingly agreed to abide by the law after signing a consent order.
"We don't feel victimized," said Russell Thompson, the president of Whistler Platinum.
"This has been a very pro-active process between us and the municipality."
Thompson said the consent order gives the municipality "some real teeth" in cracking down on illegal renters.
"Hopefully we're creating somewhat of a template here that can be used with each subsequent non-compliant company," said councillor Ken Melamed.
"So the next step is to pursue this and go after all of the property management companies that we can prove are operating illegally."
The order prevents Whistler Platinum from advertising, managing, or renting its residentially zoned properties.
It also allows the municipality to take strong legal action against the company if they are found to be non-compliant.
"The consent order gives the municipality the power to take out an injunction against us if they find us in breach," said Thompson.
In addition, the order gives the municipality the right to check the company's books as well as increasing the rental time on its residential properties from a minimum of 30 days to a minimum of 60 days.
"We are perfectly happy to abide by the consent order," said Thompson.
"We have no intention of not being in compliance."
In the Whistler Platinum portfolio there are 30 homes which are zoned for tourists and five that are residentially zoned properties.
Thompson said two of those residentially zoned properties were rented out for periods of less than one month.
"Whistler Platinum decided early in the year that they would stop booking residential places for short-term (rentals)," said Ian Davis, Whistler Platinum's lawyer with Race and Company.
"They decided to do that because of the climate in Whistler and because it was a very nominal (portion of their business)."
Although willing to agree to a consent order with the municipality, the owners of Whistler Platinum said they did not believe they were actually breaking a bylaw.
A letter from Whistler Platinum to council dated Feb. 7 states: "It is... critical to stress that we believe we have always acted within the spirit of the regulations, as we have at all times kept to one booking per thirty-one days in these homes."