"Where can one rent a house / condo / log cabin in Banff that will accommodate a family of 12 / a romantic getaway / a group of friends?"

Some version of this question pops up on the Banff Forum regularly.  To learn why you can't find a vacation rental in Banff, and to find out about alternatives to meet your needs, read on ...

Need to Reside Regulations

Banff is a town within a national park, and is subject to special regulations as a result.  One of these is the "need to reside" regulation.  Simply summarized, it says that in order to live in a residence in the park, you must either be employed in the park, be a full-time student in the park, be retired after having worked for at least 5 years in the park, or be a spouse or dependent of someone who is in one of those categories.

This regulation is in place to help limit the size of the town.  If it wasn't there, many people would want to have summer homes or ski condos in Banff, and the town would both grow in size and become more expensive for those who need to work and live there.

Because of this regulation, it is not legal for residences in the town of Banff to be run as "vacation rental" properties for the purposes of  short term visitors.  Here's a link to a recent forum discussion about a town of Banff enforcement blitz:



In any situation with a limited supply and a strong demand, scammers will step in. In Feb 2013, Banff RCMP warned that fraudulent rental ads were being placed online. The ads look convincing, with photos and information about the property. The prospective renter would talk with the fraudster by phone or by email, and pay a deposit online or via Western Union. But upon arriving in Banff, they would find that the property was fake or occupied. 


Alternatives to meet your needs

There are a few places in the residential areas where you can legally find accommodation -- the licensed Bed and Breakfasts, with resident manager/operators.  You can find a list of possibilities on the Tourism Bureau website:  www.banfflakelouise.com

However, if you are looking for the independence of an accommodation unit just for you, along with the convenience of your own kitchen, you could consider one of the hotels in town that offer condo-style accommodation, with kitchen, separate sleeping areas, etc.  There is a cluster of these on Tunnel Mountain:  Hidden Ridge Resort, Douglas Fir, Buffalo Mountain Lodge, Inns of Banff and Tunnel Mountain Resort are examples of properties that offer this style of accommodation.  The Fox Hotel downtown has kitchenettes - mini fridge, microwave, toaster, dishes, sink, coffee maker and kettle, and some of their two bedroom suites can have up to 4 double beds and a pull out sofa bed.

If you have a large party, and really want a furnished house, there are lots of vacation rentals in the town of Canmore, located outside the national park, a 20 minute drive from Banff.  Check out the following sites for possibilities: www.ownerdirect.com, www.homeaway.com, www.vacationrentals.com, www.vrbo.com.  Please note -- you will see some properties on these pages listed as being in Banff.  Read the listings carefully, as most of these are actually located in Canmore, and some are even farther away. Look for a picture of the home which was taken from the street - municipal authorities can visit these websites and owners who are renting illegally will be  reluctant to post a photo that can identify their property. (But posting such a photo is no guarantee that the rental is legal.) Also be aware that most homes in residential areas must be rented for a minimum of 28 days. Be sure to check this to ensure that your reservation is "legal" and not cancelled at the last minute because of Town enforcement.

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