Airbnb agrees to help enforce Vancouver's short-term rental rules
Published Wednesday, April 11, 2018 10:37AM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 12, 2018 7:44AM PDT
Vancouver has reached an agreement with Airbnb that will see the company help enforce the city's short-term rental rules on users.
Starting this month, new hosts will need to prove to Airbnb that they have a $49 business licence before they can rent out their home using the service. Existing hosts will also have to provide proof eventually, but are being given until Aug. 31 as a grace period.
Mayor Gregor Robertson said the Airbnb deal is the "first of its kind in Canada," and will help ensure more of the city's housing stock goes toward housing people who actually live here, as opposed to visiting tourists.
"Housing here is for homes first and to be used as a business after that, and taxed appropriately when it's used as a business," Robertson said.
Officials estimate there are about 6,600 short-term rentals in the city, and that nearly nine-in-10 are listed on Airbnb. It's unclear how that number will be impacted after the rules take effect.
Licences, which will be offered starting on April 16, will only be granted to people who are renting out their primary residence. Anyone with a secondary suite or an investment property won't qualify unless the residence is rented to a long-term tenant and the tenant agrees to operate a short-term rental with the owner's approval.
Those caught breaking the rules will be subject to a fine of $1,000 a day.
But some people are already looking for ways around the law regardless. A recent ad posted on Craigslist offered a discount on rent for tenants willing to lie to the city.
"You will be living on the ground level suite. In the upper suite, there is a legal Airbnb suite. I just need you to put your name down as the long term tenant. You won't need to do anything else," it read.
The posting has since been deleted.
Four new city staff will be responsible for tracking down illegal listings. And as part of its agreement with the city, Airbnb has promised to hand over a list of all Vancouver licences and associated addresses every quarter, which officials will use to find illegal operators.
New and existing Airbnb hosts will be required to grant permissions for the information-sharing.
"Airbnb is proud to have partnered with the City of Vancouver on this landmark agreement," Alex Dagg, public policy director for Airbnb, said in a statement.
"This new system will make home sharing easier for Vancouverites and give the City the tools it needs to enforce their regulations."
Vancouver officials said they are working on similar deals iwth other platforms such as VRBO and Home Away.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Ben Miljure
BREAKING: @MayorGregor announcing agreement between @Airbnb and @CityofVancouver on short term rentals. Listings in #Vancouver will require business licence, $1000 fine/day for non compliance. City estimates there are 6600 listings, 88% are on Airbnb #vanpoli pic.twitter.com/JhwQJDMzHr— Nafeesa Karim (@nafeesakarim) April 11, 2018