It seems that every real estate market has its own local lingo, and Whistler is certainly no exception. For example, here in Whistler, we don’t call them single-family homes – we refer to them as “chalets”. Doesn’t that seem fitting for a mountain town?
“Phase I” and “Phase II” are two other terms that are heard on a regular basis – terms that are most likely unfamiliar to those not immersed in the world of Whistler real estate. In order to make educated decisions and feel confident in the buying and selling processes, it’s important for my clients to understand key terminology like this. The focus of this blog post and the next will be to explain what these terms mean.
Let’s start with Phase I.
The Phase I Covenant
The Phase I designation is a covenant. Despite what many people think, it is not a zoning bylaw. Zoning bylaws are designated by the Official Community Plan (OCP). Zoning can change over time, through rezoning requests, OCP updates, etc.
On the other hand, a covenant is something that is registered to the property’s title.
The Phase I covenant was initially registered by the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW). Since it is registered to the title, it does not matter who owns the property – the covenant still applies.
While some types of covenants can be modified through the RMOW, the Municipality does not typically modify rental pool covenants such as the Phase I covenant. For all intents and purposes, it is safe to assume that you cannot change the fact that a Phase I property is a Phase I property in Whistler.
The Phase I covenant defines what uses are permitted for the property to which it applies. As per the RMOW:
“A Phase I Rental Pool Covenant is the least restrictive of the rental pool covenants because an owner is allowed unrestricted use of the unit. When the unit is not being used, it must be placed into a bona fide rental pool company for rental to visitors.”
A Phase I property:
can be occupied full-time by the property owner;
can be rented out on a long-term basis if it is not used by the property owner; or
can be rented out on a short-term (nightly) basis to visitors if it is not used by the property owner.
If the owner chooses to rent the property out on a nightly basis, there are several options available. He or she may manage the rentals of the property himself or herself; alternatively, a professional property management company can be hired. Different property managers in town offer different levels of service; it usually possible to find several options that meet an owner’s needs. I am happy to help you find a suitable option, if this is the path you choose to take.
Where Are Phase I Properties Located?
Phase I properties are not typically located in Whistler’s residential neighbourhoods; they are usually situated in more tourist-oriented locations such as the Village, the Benchlands, or Creekside. Further, they typically apply to multi-family units (condos and town homes), not to chalets.
Why Phase I?
So why bother designating certain properties with the Phase I covenant?
The covenant is there to ensure that condos and town homes in Whistler’s popular tourist areas are not sitting empty. Whether someone is living there full-time, renting it out for the season, or just staying for the night, the idea is that the Phase I unit is made available to bodies who want to be in Whistler. Since the development of additional housing and accommodation units is restricted in Whistler, the Phase I designation is meant to ensure that the existing supply of housing is being used in one way or another.
Stay tuned for my next blog post, which will discuss the Phase II covenant!