City of Vancouver hosts public hearing on short-term rental sites
Members of the public were invited to Vancouver City Hall Tuesday evening to discuss how the city should regulate short-term rentals such as those listed on Airbnb.
At a hearing that started at 6 p.m., residents of the city with a long-term vacancy rate of less than 1 per cent were asked to weigh in on how empty suites should be used.
Currently there are thousands of short-term rental units available online in Vancouver. A new bylaw would change that, mandating landlords be licensed and limiting short-term rentals to primary residences only.
- Read the summary and recommendations on the City of Vancouver website
The bylaw would apply to all properties being leased for a period shorter than 30 days, other than hotels.
The suggested rules also include that the short-term rental of vehicles and accessory buildings would not be permitted, no more than two adults could occupy each bedroom, and all units comply with the city's fire code.
No more than one booking would be permitted at a time, corporations could not operate short-term rentals and strata council would have to authorize an accommodation before a licence is granted, if applicable. Guests must be provided an emergency contact, fire safety plans must be posted, smoke alarms must be installed in each bedroom and the operator would be required to pay a $49 fee each year.
"The short-term rentals like Airbnb have soaked up thousands of units that were long-term rentals," Mayor Gregor Robertson said over the weekend.
In addition to renters and landlords, the meeting was expected to draw top executives from Airbnb, who are arguing for more leniency in the city's rules.
In a statement to CTV News, a representative for Airbnb said the company welcomes the city's move toward regulation.
"Airbnb continues to recommend fair, easy-to-follow rules that support home sharing," the company said.
Octavian Cadabeschi from the Fairbnb Coalition, an organization calling for stiffer regulation of the industry, said the group supports new rules but questions how they'll be enforced.
He wondered how bylaw officers will catch unlicensed hosts, and added that "their licensing process is unclear as well."
While the rules would only apply to Vancouver owners, the city's bylaw could be used as a blueprint for other municipalities.
"It's not unique to Vancouver. We're certainly seeing it in other places like Tofino and other tourist destinations," said B.C. Housing Minister Selina Robinson.