Banff Vacation Rentals
Although you may see homes or condos advertised as such, vacation rentals are not legal in Banff National Park. The risks you incur if staying at an illegal vacation rental include:
1) You may lose your deposit if the rental operation is shut down prior to your stay
2) The vacation rental may be shut down during your stay
3) If you need to make an insurance claim, your insurance company may not pay out for a claim arising at an illegal vacation rental
4) Illegal means unlicensed, so there are no obligations for the owner to ensure fire and health regulations are followed
Why are vacation rentals illegal in Banff National Park?
The reason vacation rentals are illegal in Banff (and in Jasper) is somewhat convoluted. All land within Banff National Park is owned by the federal government, including land within the town of Banff, which is leased by the government to residents and commercial landlords. Under the National Parks Lease and License of Occupation Regulations, residential leases restrict occupancy to eligible residents (for an overview of residential eligibility, visit the Parks Canada webpage devoted to “need to reside”) .
The residency provisions exclude the ownership of homes for recreational use, thereby ensuring that residential lands are available exclusively for use by people who have a “need to reside.” And so not only is it illegal to purchase a property for personal recreational use, it is illegal for a homeowner (regardless of their own residency status) to rent their property—or part of their property, such as a basement suite—to anyone with no need to reside, which obviously includes anyone coming to Banff for a vacation.
The most recent crackdown on Banff vacation rentals was tabled by Banff Town Council at an August 18 2014 council meeting. The minutes can be found on this page.
When is Banff not Banff?
If you look online, either through a search engine of a vacation rental site such as VRBO, you’ll see lots of rentals listed as “Banff.” Some will actually be in Banff (the giveaway is no address and no exterior photos, making it harder for officialdom to track them down), but most are in neighboring Canmore and use “Banff” as a keyword to get your attention. Canmore does allow vacation rentals and is a great alternative, but do be aware that you will not be in Banff when booking.
What are the alternatives?
Canmore vacation rentals are legitimate; stay here and you’ll be at the eastern entrance to the park, a 15-minute drive from downtown Banff.
Banff has an excellent selection of hotels and lodges with larger units that include cooking facilities. Visit the Banff hotels page for details.