Vancouver to crack down on Airbnb rentals

Business licence required, fines possible under new city plan  

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Vancouver residents who rent homes that are not their primary residences through short-term rental agencies like Airbnb will be subject to licensing requirements and fines for non-compliance, according to a new City of Vancouver policy outlined this week.

Under the new framework, people will need a city business licence to operate rentals of less than 30 days. The recommendation from city staff will go to council next week to decide how the program will be implemented and policed. The city has not said how much a licence would cost.

A current city business licence to rent residential property for more than 30 days costs about $60 per year.

Residents will have to prove they own the unit being rented out on Airbnb, and if it’s in a condo development, will have to show they have the approval of the building’s strata council.

“Short-term rentals that are not principal residences will not be allowed or legalized. The goal is the units that are not principal residences will be returned so people who want to live and work in Vancouver can do so,” the city’s general manager of development services, building and licensing Kaye Krishna told News1130 radio. “Under the proposed regulations, we expect about 50 to 60 per cent of full units and about all the private rooms will be able to be rented on the short-term.”

“Owners and renters would be allowed to rent part or all of their principal residence on a nightly basis, if they have a business licence. To get a short-term rental business licence you would need to prove it is your principal residence by submitting your property title or a tenancy agreement along with photo ID and recent government or utility mail. The city will audit licence applications to prevent fraud,” according to a city statement.

Licensed operators would need to post their licence number in all online advertising. People operating rentals without a business licence will face fines and legal action.

Current city zoning regulations don't allow short-term rentals. Renting residential units for fewer than 30 days is only allowed in a licensed bed and breakfast. 

The city estimates there are at least 5,000 short-term rental units in Vancouver, 85 per cent through web-based Airbnb. Three-quarters of all short-term rentals are entire homes, condominiums or rental apartments.

The highest concentration of rentals by neighbourhood are the downtown, at 31% but Mount Pleasant, Kitsilano and East Hastings neibhourhoods each represent about 15% of the short-term rental market, according to the city.