Vancouver city council approves Airbnb motion to work on new regulations

Vancouver city council approved a motion Wednesday to ask city staff to come up with ways to control short-term housing rental services such as Airbnb.

'It really is a hotel business in a residential building,' says one resident who lives in an apartment

The City of Vancouver says there are currently 6,000 short-term rentals operating illegally. (Airbnb)

Vancouver city council approved a motion Wednesday to ask city staff to come up with ways to control short-term housing rental services such as Airbnb.

City staff were told to study the impact those services have on rental properties, gather input from tourism and hotel industries, and look at what other cities are doing to regulate Airbnb.

A handful of residents also attended the meeting Wednesday to voice their concerns about Airbnb. Many want the city to crackdown on Airbnb hosts who treat their properties, especially multi-unit properties, like hotels.

"What I've encountered is that ten units that used to be occupied by renters and owners are now occupied by tourists. Those are ten units that used to be affordable rental," said Ulrike Rodrigues, who lives in an apartment on Broadway and Fraser Street.

Ulrike Rodriguez lives in an apartment in East Vancouver and says one owner in the building is conducting a hotel business in the apartment through Airbnb. (CBC)

She says 10 out of 60 units in her building are owned by the same person who is listing them as Airbnb rentals.

"It really is a hotel business in a residential building."

Making ends meet

But one family speaking to city council Wednesday says renting out a private suite in their home on Airbnb helps them pay the mortgage.

"Originally, we bought the spot for the kids and when they're older they'll have bunk beds, but right now, we're not using the space," said Deborah Schratter, who has two sons and lives in a house near Commercial Drive.

She says the income from Airbnb helps the family make ends meet.

Deborah Schratter (right) lives with her family in a house near Commercial Drive and says listing a private suite in their house on Airbnb helps them make ends meet. (CBC)

Need for regulation

Vancouver bylaws state a person cannot rent a unit for less than 30 consecutive days unless they have a bed and breakfast license.

Geoff Meggs told CBC last week he believes Airbnb listings are hurting Vancouver's already slow rental housing market.

"We're asking city staff to step up this work...and bring forward steps we can take to restore a meaningful balance to the situation that protects our rental stock."

Airbnb Canada told CBC last week it is willing to work with cities to create better regulation for short-term rentals.

With files from Kiran Dhillon, Lisa Johnson

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