Newly obtained documents suggest that the City of Vancouver did very little to block Airbnb listings in condos and townhomes last year.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed city officials only conducted three on-site visits between January and November. The city also sent out just 10 letters to residences they expected were being illegally rented through sites like Airbnb.

Dozens of complaints were filed about short-term rentals last year, many of which were made by neighbours of rented units who were concerned about noise, security and loss of community.

But few tips were followed up on, documents show, despite officials knowing there is a severe lack of long-term rental stock available in the city.

The city has said that staff members are looking for ways to boost the vacancy rate, including regulations for short-term rental sites. A staff report released in the fall suggested several options, including one that would require hosts to have a business licence and pay a hotel tax.

Under that plan, Mayor Gregor Robertson said short-term listings would be illegal in homes that aren't principal residences, boats or trailers, so those looking for long-term housing would still have access to unoccupied apartments and homes. 

At the time, the city said there were approximately 5,300 active short-term rental listings in Vancouver. A report that includes stakeholder consultations and staff recommendations is expected to be presented in front of council early this year.

In addition to the pending regulations, staff recently approved a new tax on homes that are unoccupied by owners or long-term renters. 

The empty homes tax was approved in November, at a time when the vacancy rate was estimated to be at a record low of 0.6 per cent. The city said approximately 10,800 homes are empty year-round, and roughly 10,000 more are under-occupied.

Earlier this week, the City of Richmond voted unanimously to ban all short-term rentals other than hotels, motels and licensed bed and breakfasts.