Tofino gets serious about AirBnB crackdowns

The popular holiday destination resort is cracking down on unlicensed short-term rentals.

'We really expect you to play by the rules," says mayor of Tofino

As the home-sharing service Airbnb continues to grow in Calgary, The Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association is asking the government to regulate the short-term rental business. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

More homeowners are playing by the rules when it comes to short-term rentals in Tofino, after the resort town announced it would step up enforcement in March. 

"We've had 17 people voluntarily step forward to apply for a business licence. That is about 14 per cent of what we already have in the business licence database and I take that as a real sign of encouragement," said Josie Osborne, Mayor of Tofino. 

Osborne said the district has hired a data mining company to scour sites like AirBnB and VRBO to get addresses of short-term rental postings. The city then compares the list against their business licence database to see which listings aren't complying. 

There are 340 short-term listings in Tofino and 125 are licensed, said Osborne. 

Those without a licence will be sent a letter and the district will begin fining next year. . 

"We know who you are, we're figuring it out, you will be getting letters from us, but come 2017 we really really expect you to play by the rules," she said. 

People living in vans

The district has required short-term rentals to obtain licences for nearly a decade, but Osborne said after hearing story after story about people who couldn't find long-term accommodation it was time to clamp down.

"We hear...people who are living in vans or in RVs — it's openly discussed in the community — that is not an acceptable way to live." she said.

On the flip side, Osborne acknowledges some homeowners need to have short-term rentals to subsidize costs.

"The rules do a reasonable job of balancing the interest of the community and businesses, and permitting people to make some income from their property while respecting their neighbourhoods around them," she said.

The cost of the business licence depends on the number of rooms but the maximum fee is $375 a year.

With files from the CBC's The Early Edition.

To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: Tofino gets serious about AirBnB crackdowns


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