Combatting short-term apartment rentals like Airbnb may be a key part of Vancouver’s strategy to deal with the affordability crisis, but a CKNW investigation has found a well-known developer has been operating a luxury rental property like a hotel without a license.
The City of Vancouver doesn’t allow short-term rentals under 30 days without a B&B or hotel license, but Onni’s “Level Furnished Living” has been doing just that.
The Seymour St. property is marketed on travel websites like Expedia and booking.com as a hotel.
In an email obtained by CKNW, Onni offers rates between $5,100 and $6,600 a month for a studio apartment and as much as $10,800 for a two-bedroom.
But the 18-storey mixed use residential building doesn’t have a hotel license, and therefore isn’t allowed to rent for periods less than a month.
Reviews on sites like Trip Advisor from as far back as 2011 indicate Onni has allowed short-term stays, anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
“…they understand the terms of their license”
City of Vancouver Director of Licensing Kathryn Holm says thanks to the CKNW investigation, they have now spoken to Onni.
“They have assured me that they understand the terms of their license and the zoning requirements to operate as a 30-day plus rental facility.”
In order to get the proper zoning and license, Onni would have had to go through an extensive development permit process.
Holm says their inspectors will keep monitoring this developer.
“They have assured me they have addressed any inconsistency in communication around this with their staff, and we will continue to monitor as the city.”
Onni says the will no longer accept any stays that are less than 30 days at Level, adding the majority of bookings were for longer than a month.
The developer says it has “occasionally” offered short-term stays in between vacancy periods.
The developer’s parent company, Arizona-based RPMG holdings is a big campaign contributor to both the B.C. Liberals and Vision Vancouver.
Vancouver Green City Councillor Adriane Carr says Onni operating without the proper zoning and licensing is not appropriate.
Carr says it’s one of the reasons we have a housing affordability crisis.
“It’s shocking to me that there’s this sneaky process of listing in Expedia, and yes – there’s monthly rentals and then realizing that there’s nightly rentals. It just flies in the face of zoning and what is legal.”
Carr says she’s happy city staff have pledged to keep monitoring the development.