Vancouver moves to regulate Airbnb

A Vancouver staff report urges the city to regulate short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb.

A Vancouver staff report urges the city to regulate short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)


Vancouver politicians are moving ahead with a staff plan that calls for restrictions on short-term rentals such as Airbnb.

The city report, first released last week, urges council to prohibit property owners from renting out vacant properties to short-term rental platforms. Such a move could add up to 1,500 rental properties to Vancouver's housing market, the staff report said.

The city is facing a rental housing shortage, and there are concerns that services such as Airbnb remove much-needed long-term rental housing from Vancouver's rental market.

On Wednesday, the city's Policy and Strategic Priorities Committee endorsed the staff report. The proposals won't take effect until staff obtain more input from the public.

Staff are expected to report back on their findings early next year.

The proposed regulations are aimed at clamping down on property owners with vacant dwellings who list their homes on short-term rental sites.

Staff to consult public

"We're responding to a crisis of lack of housing," Mayor Gregor Robertson said.

Robertson said the proposed regulations still allow property owners to rent their homes on a short-term basis while trying to protect the rental supply.

They would require owners to obtain rental permits, post them on the listing site and also pay a licensing fee.

Last month, the mayor revealed a proposal to tax empty or vacant homes that are not principal residences, with the aim of getting empty investment properties back into the rental pool.

However, at Wednesday's committee meeting, some councillors said the proposed regulations go too far.

NPA Coun. George Affleck described the report as "overkill'," arguing the restrictions will create a "bureaucratic nightmare."

Others noted that many Vancouver homeowners have come to rely on the income generated by short-term rental to pay steep mortgage and living costs.

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