Vancouver Twitter account calls out 'illegal' Airbnb rentals
Published Tuesday, October 31, 2017 2:34PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, November 1, 2017 2:45PM PDT
A new Twitter account is sharing and shaming what it says are illegal Airbnb rentals available in Vancouver on the home sharing site in an effort to get the city to do more to crack down on short term rentals.
The account calls itself VISTRO, which stands for Vancouver's Illegal Short Term Rental Operators, and says "[if the] City of Vancouver won't go after Airbnb, we will."
It's posted several links to Airbnb properties in the city along with their addresses and images. It tags the City of Vancouver as well as the Canada Revenue Agency.
The city has replied some of VISTRO's tweets, saying it's created a case ID based on the rentals the account reported.
Hi, thanks for your report. It's been submitted via case id# 10349194. ^IF— City of Vancouver (@CityofVancouver) October 30, 2017
VISTRO says it doesn't report rooms for rent in houses, only entire home/apartment listings.
Right now, no short-term rentals are allowed in Vancouver except for licensed hotels and bed-and-breakfasts.
The proposed regulations include that property owners would be licensed and only permitted to lease their primary residence on sites like Airbnb. Second homes and investment properties could not be legally rented for periods less than 30 days.
In a city with a long-term vacancy rate of less than 1 per cent, the intent is to keep the majority of rental suites available to long-term residents.
According to city staff, there are about 6,000 illegal short-term rentals operating in Vancouver. It estimates at least 1,000 of those are not the host’s primary residence, and would not be allowed under the proposed regulation.
The city held a public hearing last week, and council is expected to make a decision on Nov. 14.
Until regulations are approved, the city's general manager for development services, buildings and licensing encourages the public to report illegal short-term rentals by calling 311 or using the VanConnect app.
"These are the primary sources for formally raising issues to the City and allow us to collect all the information we need including the address of the short-term rental, dates and times of impact and specifics about the concern as well as an active listing advertising the short term rental," Kaye Krishna said in a statement.
She said it is difficult for staff to follow up on unofficial reports, like those posted on Twitter, without having the details required to investigate further.
After a complaint is filed, the city assigns an inspector. The inspector then contacts the property owner and gives them notice to cease immediately.
"Having a legal licensing system will allow us to have a proactive enforcement system in place so we can respond to complaints with fines and even legal action, if necessary," Krishna said.
"The new enforcement coordinator will focus on gathering data and information from additional sources and will evaluate how or whether to include social media outlets in this process."
In a statement to CTV News, Airbnb Canada press secretary Lindsey Scully said the company is interested in having a comprehensive debate about home sharing in Vancouver and across the country.
"However these reckless actions of a rogue actor on Twitter are irresponsible at best," Scully said.
Here are some of the properties VISTRO has called out so far: