As the city of Vancouver moves ahead with plans to regulate short-term rental sites like Airbnb, the company is taking steps of its own to rein in hosts.
In a letter sent to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson last Thursday, Airbnb says it has axed 130 listings from its site that were deemed to be “commercial operators.”
“Airbnb has proactively removed more than 130 listings from our platform in Vancouver that we believe belong to commercial operators and do not meet the standards and priorities of our community, nor the guest experience we seek to provide,” writes Airbnb’s Canadian Public Policy director Alex Dagg.
But the letter warns while the listings have been pulled, they could always appear on other websites.
That’s a problem for Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs, who says while he’s pleased Airbnb took action, the company didn’t share details on the offending properties with the city.
“[We need to know] who’s being taken out and why, so that if they pop up elsewhere the city can avoid some duplication. We’re not looking at having that made public to the general public, but an enforcement program would be much effective if we knew who was being taken off the platform in the event they popped up on another,” he said.
Meggs says it’s an issue city staff are currently discussing with the company, as talks about new regulations inch forward.
The move is the latest in a charm offensive by the Airbnb, which has come under fire in Vancouver’s ever tightening rental market.
Last month, it released a report claiming Airbnb guests were pumping more than $400-million into the local economy.
Bylaw in the works
Last month, Vancouver Council voted in principle to move ahead with a new city bylaw that would regulate short-term rental sites, a move it says could free up up to 1,000 rental units.
It’s a figure Airbnb disputes, arguing a study of its own found only 320 units in Vancouver that “out compete” long term rentals in revenue.
A year worth of data released by the city last spring found about 5,000 short term rental listings in Vancouver, nearly three-quarters of them being for an entire residence.
The bylaw proposal would ban commercial rentals by requiring hosts to only rent their principal residence, either when they are away from home or in the form of individual rooms.
Hosts would be required to obtain a business license which would have to be included on their Airbnb rental posting, and prove the home wasn’t in violation of strata bylaws.
A final draft of the bylaw is expected by spring.