Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vancouver Proposes Licensed Short-Term Airbnb Stays to Increase Rental Supply

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vancouver Proposes Licensed Short-Term Airbnb Stays to Increase Rental Supply

Article excerpt

Vancouver proposes licensed Airbnb rentals


VANCOUVER - Vancouver's mayor wants to ban Airbnb rentals for those who aren't living in the homes they are listing, while requiring everyone else to hold a business licence.

Mayor Gregor Robertson has revealed the city's approach to regulating short stays facilitated by vacation-rental websites, which he says are contributing to a "dangerously" low vacancy rate.

"Our approach is to strike a balance between regulating short-term rentals and ensuring that some people can continue to do that, but focusing on our long-term rentals," he told a news conference Wednesday.

"Housing is first and foremost about homes, not about operating a business."

Currently, rentals of less than 30 days are prohibited without a hotel or bed-and-breakfast licence. Ninety-seven per cent of short-term listings are illegal, according to a staff report set to go to council next week.

Robertson said he recognizes a need to allow short-term stays in principal residences so that renters or owners can supplement their incomes in the expensive city. But he wants those Airbnb users to get business licences and post the licence number in advertisements.

Stays of less than a month in secondary units such as investment condos or structures like boats and trailers must remain illegal, in an effort to bring at least 1,000 homes back into the rental market, he said.

General manager of building and licensing Kaye Krishna said a principal residence would be defined by the dwelling unit -- in contrast with Vancouver's proposed empty-homes tax, which defines principal residence as the entire parcel of land.

Therefore, under the short-term rental regulations it would be illegal for owners to list a basement suite or a laneway home on Airbnb. But they wouldn't have to pay a vacancy tax on those units if left empty.

If a long-term renter of a laneway home or basement suite wanted to list it on Airbnb, they could do so because it is their principal residence, Krishna added. …

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