Getting to know the various zoning and use restrictions unique to Whistler
Before jumping into the Whistler real estate market, it is important to consider how you plan to use your Whistler property. How often will it be for personal use? Are you thinking of doing nightly or long-term rentals? If so, how would you like to manage those rentals? Whistler has many unique zoning and usage restrictions to consider so how you answer these questions will have an impact on what properties you should consider.
With that in mind, here is an introduction to some of the most common property types and zonings in Whistler.
Most single-family homes in Whistler, as well condominiums and townhomes outside of the Village, Benchlands and Creekside neighbourhoods are zoned residentially.
Residentially zoned properties are primarily designated for personal use. You own the property and can:
- use it as much as you wish as a primary residence or weekend getaway earn income through long-term rentals (monthly, seasonally, or annually).
- use it for any commercial activities, including nightly rentals.
Resident restricted properties are a unique designation of residential properties. They follow the same guidelines as a residential property (above) with the exception that, although they can be purchased by anyone, whoever is occupying the unit (you as the owner or your long-term tenant) must be employed in Whistler (or be a retiree from a job in Whistler). The purpose of this designation is to ensure that there is housing for the many people who help keep our resort town running day-in and day-out.
Phase I Rental Properties
A Phase I covenant, which is registered to a property’s title, is the most flexible form of zoning for rental properties in Whistler. These properties tend to be condos or townhomes in the Village, Benchlands and Creekside areas. Phase I properties allow for unrestricted use.
A Phase I property can:
- be lived full-time
- be used for unlimited personal getaways
- generate revenues through short-term (nightly) rentals
- generate revenues through long-term (monthly or annual) rentals
- be used for any combination of the above
When a Phase I property is not being occupied, the covenant states that it must be made available for rental. Except in rare occasions where the strata has committed to a specific rental company, owners of Phase I properties have several options available to them. They can use a professional rental management company of their choice (there are many property managers in town that offer various levels of service) or they can self-manage the property through Airbnb or other similar site.
Popular Phase I properties include Town Plaza, Stoney Creek (Lagoons, Sunpath, and Northstar), Valhalla, Glaciers Reach, Granite Court, Tyndall Stone Lodge.
Phase II Rental Properties
A Phase II covenant, which is registered to a property’s title, is a freehold covenant that restricts owner usage to a total of 56 days per year. These reservations are pre-booked on a 6-12 month calendar with some flexibility for shorter notice bookings depending on the hotel occupancy. These properties tend to be hotel-style properties in the Village and Benchlands.
A Phase II property can:
- be used by the owner for a maximum of 28 days in the summer and 28 days in the winter
- be booked for up to 21 days at a time
When the owner is not using their unit, it is placed into a rental pool and rented out by the hotel management. The owner earns revenues from the pooled revenue based on their unit’s entitlement.
Phase II properties are best suited to the occasional visitor who is primarily interested in Whistler as an investment and wants to earn revenues from their property. Properties zoned Phase II are considered commercial ventures and are taxed at a commercial rate so purchasers should always discuss their purchase with their accountant.
Some of the higher revenue generating Phase II properties are The Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre, The Pan Pacific Mountainside, The Westin, and The Four Seasons.
These freehold properties allow several parties to be registered on title and share ownership of a single property. Ownership arrangements vary and include:
Halfshare: Freehold title to half of the property where each owner is entitled to 6 months of use per year.
Quartershare: Freehold title to a quarter of the property where each owner is entitled to 1 week of use per month for a total of 13 weeks per year.
Tenthshare: Freehold title to a tenth of the property where each owner is entitled to 5 planned weeks of use per year and unlimited access to the property when it is not being used.
Quartershare properties are the most common and popular. These complexes include The Legends, Evolution, and Horstman House.
In shared ownership properties, each owner is designated specific periods of time during which they may use the property. There is typically a set rotational schedule that rotates every year so that owners all have a chance to use the unit over the Christmas period.
Shared ownership properties allow for owners to earn revenues when they aren’t using their allotted weeks.
Shared Ownership is a great way to own a larger property in Whistler for a fraction of the price. They are best suited to those who live in the Lower Mainland/Washington area and who plan to visit Whistler regularly.
There is a lot to know about Whistler’s unique zoning and usage restrictions and that is why it is important to work with a local Realtor. If you have any questions about any of the above, contact me anytime. I would be happy to help you decide what properties would be your best fit and answer any questions you may have.
Read Part 1