Vancouver short-term rentals down by almost half since new regulations introduced

Sep 5 2018, 8:37 pm

The number of active short-term rentals in Vancouver has dropped to 3,742 compared to approximately 6,600 in April, when the city introduced new bylaws and regulations around the industry.

The regulations “strike a fair balance for Vancouverites who rely on income from short-term rentals to help make ends meet, while also recognizing that our priority is to make sure Vancouverites have a secure place to call home,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson at the time.

The city defines a short-term rental as any home – or room in a home – that is rented for less than 30 days at a time.

As part of the agreement, Airbnb hosts in Vancouver are required to update their short-term rental listings to display a business licence, which will cost $49 a year.

On Wednesday, the city provided an update on its data numbers as a result of efforts this year to crack down on all short-term rentals operating without a valid licence.

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The deadline to apply for a license was August 31, and the city said that now, it will be increasing enforcement against those still not in compliance with the bylaws.

“Efforts by city staff to educate the public and enforce against commercial or illegal operators have resulted in 2,630 short-term business licences being issued, which represents 70% of existing listings, and is among the highest initial uptake by any major city globally,” the city said in a release.

Since September 1, a total of 294 new addresses have been flagged for non-compliance and are subject to enforcement.

As a result of the new bylaws, Airbnb has also deactivated 2,482 Vancouver-based listings that did not include a business licence, as part of the landmark agreement with the city.

In addition to the listings removed by Airbnb, more than 660 listings were removed or converted to long-term rental units by individuals in response to the new regulations.

“The early results of the short-term rental program are very promising,” said Kaye Krishna, General Manager, Development, Buildings and Licensing. “These new regulations allow residents to generate additional income through part-time rental of their principal residence, while addressing the potential loss of much-needed housing for use as tourist accommodation.”

Krishna said that as the city moves forward with further education and enforcement, “we expect to see the short-term rental market stabilize.”

She added that the city has received public support for the new regulations “and I hope we will continue to hear feedback and tips from the community on the program and suspected illegal operators.”

Last spring, the city provided a registration period meant to allow residents to understand and comply with the new short-term rental regulations.

During this period staff also pursued enforcement against operators that would clearly not meet the new regulations, such as unsafe dwellings or commercial operations. To-date, over 2,650 short-term listings have been investigated.

Increased enforcement starts this week

Starting this week, anyone posting a short-term rental listing without a valid business licence will be subject to enforcement. This includes fines up to $1,000 per offence on each platform where the rental is advertised and escalating legal action that includes prosecution.

“Over the past four months the city has communicated broadly with residents and held information events to help the public understand the new regulations,”  the city said. “Airbnb and Expedia… have also made significant efforts to educate and support their hosts in getting into compliance with Vancouver’s new rules.”

The city noted that Airbnb has supplied the first of many data files listing addresses and business licence numbers of short-term operators in Vancouver, while Expedia has agreed to add a field where business licence numbers can be added to their online listings.

Residents are also being encouraged to continue to reporting addresses and URLs suspected of illegal short-term rentals by calling 3-1-1, completing the online form or by submitting a report through the VanConnect App.

Those wishing to apply for a short-term rental license can do so online as well.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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