Is AirBnB wrecking Vancouver’s rental market? That’s a question the City of Vancouver is asking right now.
It comes on the heels of a new study revealing there were nearly 4,800 Vancouver units up for rent on the website as of December 3rd, up from about 1,000 in June.
It raises the key question – with rental Vacancy rates below 1%, are locals being squeezed out by visitors using housing as hotel rooms?
Mukhtar Latif, the city’s Chief Housing Officer says staff are currently looking into how the online home-rental service might be affecting the city.
“The bylaws are there, and also stratas have bylaws within the Strata Act to protect the issues that owners and tenants face within a building.”
But he says it’s not something the city has cracked down on, because they’ve received fewer than a dozen complaints about the issue.
“The feedback we’ve had at the moment is that it hasn’t had as much impact in the market as has been suggested.”
He says that review will include gathering data, working with Tourism Vancouver, and looking at the experience other cities have had as well.
He says the issue is finding a way to support the sharing economy, which could be a boon to the city, while protecting renters as well. To that end, he says the city is mainly focused on trying to increase rental stock through programs like secondary suites and laneway houses.
Asked what the city will do if the review uncovers evidence sites like AirBnB are having a negative impact on the rental market?
“Those will be recommendations we’ll be taking to council once we’ve done the initial review. And obviously we’ll be bringing those proposals forward that will protect the rights of tenants in the city.”
LISTEN: Lynda Steele’s full interview with City of Vancouver Chief Housing Officer Mukhtar Latif