Vancouver council regulates Airbnb, short-term rentals
Vancouver residents must obtain annual licence and pay one-time activation fee
Vancouver has joined the ranks of large cities around the world that have moved to regulate Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms.
On Tuesday, council approved regulations to address the more than 6,000 short-term rentals in the city, finally legalizing an industry that has exploded in popularity over recent years despite operating in a grey zone.
“This is a straightforward regulatory approach,” mayor Gregor Robertson said. “It is definitely balanced in terms of cities around the world and how they approach this.”
Robertson said short-term rentals affect the rental housing supply, particularly in cities like Vancouver where there is a rental housing crunch and a near-zero rental vacancy rate.
The new rules “will make sure that almost 80 per cent of those (shortterm rentals) currently out there are actually legal rather than illegal, and that (with) the balance we see some return to long-term rentals,” he said.
The city estimates about 1,000 units will return to the long-term market.
The decision came on the same day Airbnb announced it is setting a 120day cap a year for hosts renting out a property in central Paris. On Monday, Seattle city council voted to impose a tax of $8 per night for rooms or $14 per night for entire homes on short-term rental operators starting 2019.
The issue of how to regulate shortterm rentals in Vancouver drew more than 100 speakers to two days of public hearings in October.
Critics of Airbnb say the home-sharing giant is exacerbating Vancouver’s tight rental housing market because it is more lucrative for landlords to cater to tourists rather than its residents. Supporters of Airbnb say the ability to rent out their homes on a part-time basis helps them make ends meet.
Under the new rules, which would take effect April 1, 2018, homeowners or renters can rent out part or all of their principal homes for less than 30 days at a time after getting a $49 annual licence and paying a $54 one-time activation fee.
Short-term rentals are prohibited for secondary homes, secondary suites and laneway homes — a point that drew fire from property owners unable to put their homes up for longterm rentals who said the regulations are depriving them of much-needed income.
“We think that is unnecessarily restrictive,” said Airbnb policy director Alex Dagg, citing Airbnb data that shows homeowners sharing a secondary suite only rent out the units on average for three months every year. “These are not, in our view, units that will be going back to the long-term market.”
There are about 550 secondary suites in Vancouver on their platform, Airbnb says. The majority of Airbnb hosts rent out their primary homes.
Under the new rules, operators are required to include the business licence on their listing or face a fine of up to $1,000.
Airbnb policy director Alex Dagg says the City of Vancouver’s regulations prohibiting residents from listing secondary homes or suites as short-term rentals is ‘unnecessarily restrictive.’