It turns out, a developer at the centre of a CKNW investigation, for illegally operating like a hotel without a license, has been busted before.
The City of Vancouver says Onni’s Level Furnished Living came to their attention last year.
Vancouver’s General Manager of Development, Kaye Krishna says back then the developer told the city it would stop renting out suites for less than a month.
“Now that we’ve seen that they are a repeat offender, we will keep a strong eye on them and activity monitor their activity, much like we would if this had been brought to our attention multiple times for something else. So, in this case, we’ll keep our eye on this and make sure they no longer do this.”
In an e-mail to CKNW, Onni says they are focused on long-term stays of 30 nights or more, but there has been intermittent vacancies between long-term stays which is why they accepted some shorter visits.
The email adds majority of its business is long-term, and when they have allowed short-term stays, all taxes and fees have been collected and remitted.
Green City Councillor Adrianne Car says it’s inappropriate for Onni to run short-term stays without the proper zoning and licensing.
Onni says after speaking with city officials this week, they have agreed they won’t allow short-term stays at Level Furnished Living Vancouver.
Vision Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs says the developer skirting short-term rental rules is news to him.
He claims clamping down on the issue is harder than some may think.
“I’m surprised that that’s been happening on a wider scale with some of these companies. That’s not the line of business I thought they were in.”
Acting as Deputy Mayor, Meggs says the city just doesn’t have the staff to police website and listings, looking for everyone breaking rules against short-term rentals.
“The issue is the bylaw system is fundamentally complaints driven. The idea is to achieve compliance, not to be constantly policing out there.”
He says the burden of proof is also high.
The CKNW investigation has now found a number of Vancouver properties listed on travel websites like Expedia, Booking.com or Hotels.com like hotels without the proper license; many even have Trip Advisor reviews.
Meggs says even that may not be enough to take a rule-breaker to court.