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What are the Canmore Airbnb Rules?

Mountain cabin Canmore airbnb rules

What are the Canmore Airbnb Rules?

Wondering what the Canmore Airbnb rules are and just need a straight answer?

Nearly every day I have clients asking me about how they can get into the highly lucrative Airbnb market in Canmore. With the explosive popularity of the Canadian Rockies, it’s no wonder Canmore has become a key market for short term rental investment properties in Canada. Ask most real estate agents, homeowners, or even Canmore government officials what the Airbnb rules are though, and they usually can’t come up with a straight answer.

Today, lets decode the Canmore Airbnb rules, so you can make sense of what could be a strong investment in Canmore real estate.

Winter cabin - Canmore Airbnb rules

So why can’t you do Airbnb everywhere in Canmore?

Taking one look around the communities of Canmore and Banff, you would immediately notice a large number of one thing – hotels! With the stunning scenery and world-class activities we enjoy here in the Canadian Rockies, there is no shortage of visitors to the region. Thats why the hotel and nightly lodging industry in the area stretches way back to 1888 and the times of CP rail. The landmark Banff Springs Hotel is a testament to the long-lasting and lucrative tourism of the area. Hotels here have been  likened to a “printing press” for money in some cases.

Websites like Airbnb & VRBO capitalize on everyday homeowners who want to rent out their home nightly to make money when they aren’t using it. Its a brilliant model that has obviously done well for everyone involved!

With this in mind, you might ask yourself: Why wouldn’t every homeowner in town turn their own home into a “printing press”?!

As a Canmore homeowner myself, I certainly know what my answer would be. The thing is though, Canmore and other popular mountain towns like Aspen & Jackson Hole have a major shortage when it comes to all types of housing. This is particularly true when it comes to affordable housing. We also have a huge array of traditional operators (hotels, lodges) who have a vested interest in protecting their business.

With this in mind, the town of Canmore sought to regulate Airbnb’s.

So what are the Canmore Airbnb Rules?

The key Canmore Airbnb Rules are:

  1. Nightly rentals are only allowed in specially zoned areas.
  2. You can’t book, advertise, take deposits or payments via Airbnb in other zones.
  3. Tourist Homes may be full time residences or short-term rentals.
  4. Hotel Condos may only be used for short-term rentals.

These are the basic rules, but it gets a bit more complex.

Specially Zoned Areas

Areas zoned by the town of Canmore as “Hotel Condo” or “tourist home” are the two key options for Airbnb.

How to own an airbnb in Canmore
Canmore Short-term Rental Zoning

Visitor Accommodation/Recreation/Hotel Condominium

These terms are essentially interchangeable!

The key thing about this zoning is that it is viewed more like a commercial property by the municipality and lenders. What does this mean? Think of it as “owning a hotel room” or, owning a hotel business. Taxes are a bit higher. Lenders require a more significant down payment. It is subject to GST nearly every time it is sold. Key rules for this zoning:

  • Cannot be used as a primary residence / dwelling – intended solely for short-term rental.
  • Stays cannot exceed more than 28 days in a month.
  • GST will be due on sale if it is to be rented out for profit – ask me how you can defer sale GST.

Even if the property you are considering is in a hotel rental pool, it can likely be removed and self-managed via Airbnb. Ask me how.

Tourist Home

This can be the most desirable zoning in Canmore for Airbnb, particularly if you want to also use it as a primary residence (or “dwelling unit” in the eyes of the municipality). The key distinction is that Tourist Homes can be lived in full time, and rented short-term.

From the town of Canmore site:

A tourist home is any dwelling that can be used as a permanent residence or for short-term stays. The formal definition of a tourist home is: “a dwelling unit operated as a temporary place to stay, with or without compensation, and includes all vacation rentals of a dwelling unit.”

The characteristics that distinguish a tourist home from a dwelling unit used as a residence may include any of the following:

  • the intent of the occupant to stay for short-term vacation purposes rather than use the property as a residence; and/or
  • the commercial nature of a tourist home; and/or
  • the management or advertising of the dwelling unit as a tourist home or “vacation rental,” on websites such as Airbnb or VRBO; and/or
  • the use of a system of reservations, deposits, confirmations, credit cards, or other forms of electronic payment.

Tourist Homes in Canmore often ask a higher price because of this zoning, and can be in a beat up shape. Unless you also wish to use it as a residence, Hotel Condo properties can be a better option.

What happens if you break the Canmore Airbnb rules?

The town of Canmore has been notoriously ruthless when it comes to illegal vacation rental enforcement. They have been known to issue $2,500 first offence fines without warning – for simply listing a property on Airbnb or VRBO websites. Subsequent fines are $5,000. Yikes!

Have questions about finding Airbnb real estate in Canmore?

Don’t let the daunting fines or complex rules deter you. Owning a short-term rental property in Canmore is a major opportunity to cash in on passive income if done right. Rental income can pad out your retirement or portfolio, while you get to visit the property yourself whenever you want. Read my article on how to own an Airbnb in Canmore, or call/text/email me today to learn about available properties on the market right now.


Like this post? Check out some of my other articles to learn more:

Canmore Buyer Agent – Dan McGuire

How to own an Airbnb in Canmore

Note: this article is for general informational purposes only and does not replace official agreements/information from management companies, local authorities, or constitute advice. While all efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of information at the time of writing, things can change and it may be updated from time to time. If you have questions about any specific property, let’s connect so I can ensure you have the most accurate information available.