by Denise Brown
on Monday, December 18th, 2017 at 2:56pm.
In a previous blog post, I told you all about the Phase I covenant. In this post, I’m going to cover its counterpart, the Phase II covenant.
Wait… What’s a Covenant Again?
For a refresher, a covenant is something that is registered to a property’s title by the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW). It is NOT a zoning bylaw, which is something that can be amended (at least in theory – this is not a fast, easy, or guaranteed process). The Phase II covenant runs with a property’s title – in other words, it’s not going anywhere.
While the Phase I covenant allows several uses, the Phase II covenant is not nearly as flexible. Here is how the RMOW defines it:
A Phase II Rental Pool Covenant is more restrictive in terms of owner usage because an owner is restricted to a total of 56 days of use (28 days in summer and 28 days in winter). For the remaining days, the unit must be placed into a bona fide rental pool company for rental to visitors.
Here are some key points to take away from this:
– The owner of a Phase II property can only occupy it up to four weeks in the summer and four weeks in the winter. It cannot be used as a principal residence.
– While the owner can occupy the unit for up to 56 days in a year, this does not necessarily mean that he or she has to. An owner can rent out the unit for 365 days a year, if he or she wants to.
– Further, those 28 days in the summer and 28 days in the winter do not have to be consecutive. For example, an owner can spend 14 weekends in the winter in the unit, renting it out the rest of the time.
– Phase II properties are intended to be rented to visitors. In other words, these are short-term rentals – think nightly or weekly – not long-term rentals.
– Although the property has to be made available for rentals at least 309 days of the year, the property is still in compliance with the covenant if it is vacant because of a lack of rental demand (i.e., if no one booked it).
Where Are Phase II Properties Located?
The vast majority of Phase II properties are condominium style properties located within hotel type buildings in Whistler Village or the Upper Village/Benchlands. When visitors stay in hotels around town, they don’t realize that the unit they’re occupying is actually most likely owned by an individual, unlike traditional hotels (though there are a few “regular” hotels in Whistler, too).
In the majority of cases, the hotel in which the Phase II unit is located will manage the property’s nightly rentals. In return, the management take a percentage of the unit revenues. The owner of a Phase II unit must also pay strata fees and Tourism Whistler fees. In certain buildings, there will be restrictions on upgrades and renovations that can be made to a unit (which could include furnishings) to maintain consistency throughout the building.
How Do I Find Out If I Own/Am Buying a Phase II Property?
If you’re considering purchasing a unit in a hotel, chances are good that it is a Phase II property (though not always – for example, the Four Seasons Private Residences units are under the Phase I covenant, though the units on the hotel side are Phase II).
You can also consult the RMOW’s GIS map to learn about the permitted uses for a property.
Finally, the easiest way to find out if your property is affected by the Phase II covenant is to simply ask me!