Now that data collected over the past year shows that 5,000 units are being listed through AirBnB, the City of Vancouver is working on a short-term-rental bylaw.
Councillor Geoff Meggs says AirBnB rentals have doubled every year since 2013, and they’re concerned it’s cutting into an already tight rental market.
Faced with a similar problem. the District of Tofino decided to do something about it last March.
City council unanimously passed a motion to deal to crack down on unlicensed short-term accommodations offered on websites like AirBnB.
LISTEN to the interview with Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne:
Mayor Josie Osborne joined Jill Bennett to discuss how it’s been working out.
She says there were two reasons why they passed the motion
“There were two reasons why council made the decision. First, there were the anecdotal reports that we were getting, just like in the City of Vancouver, that housing stock was being converted from long term to short term. And the second was that we need a fair, even playing field for all providers of tourism accommodation. Whether you have an 80 room hotel or a three-room short-term-rental, that you need to get a license form the District of Tofino.”
Overall response has been positive
She says on the whole the response has been very positive with about 20 people coming forward to get a proper license.
Though that isn’t the total number of people advertising online accommodations.
“…Through a little data sleuthing on the internet – we hired a company to help us do this – (we found out) how many properties there are that are advertising online. And because we have significantly less business licenses that there are advertisements online, we know now which properties we need to approach individually and address the compliance issues with.”
In Tofino, they’ve deemed seven residential zones where short-term-rentals are allowed.
“As long as the property owner meets a number of requirements about parking spaces, number of bedrooms, things like that. Then they are eligible to get a business license.
Before getting a license, a bylaw enforcement will visit the property, which is not something that every property owner is going to want to happen.
Enforcing the bylaw
“What we really want to achieve is voluntary compliance.”
Osborne says they don’t want to fine people, they just want people to play by the rules.
For that reason, Tofino intends to spend 2016 pro-actively educating people about the bylaw, including property owners who aren’t in compliance and continue to offer short-term-rentals without a license.