British Columbia

Airbnb house in Vancouver's West End concerns social housing neighbour

Many critics of Airbnb have voiced their concern about hosts breaking city bylaws but the rules can be difficult to enforce, as some city of Vancouver building inspectors discovered Thursday when they checked up on a house listed on Airbnb.

4 building inspectors with the City of Vancouver visited the house Thursday morning

This home in Vancouver's West End is listed on Airbnb as a seven bedroom, three bathroom house that can accommodate up to 12 people. It’s listed at $930 per night. (CBC)

Many critics of Airbnb have voiced their concerns about hosts breaking city bylaws but the rules can be difficult to enforce, as some city of Vancouver building inspectors discovered Thursday when they checked up on a house listed on Airbnb.

The home, located at 1150 Comox Street, is listed on the Airbnb website as a seven bedroom, three-bathroom house that can accommodate up to 12 people. It's listed at $930 per night.

Four building inspectors with the City of Vancouver visited the house Thursday morning to check the building for occupancy.

The Airbnb operation in the house is not legal unless the owners of the property have a business license, said Adrian Cashato, one of the inspectors. He says this not the first time the city has checked up on the house.

But he and the other three inspectors left without issuing a ticket Thursday because there was only one woman in the house at the time. 

The house is located next to the Mole Hill Community Housing Society, a social housing organization that occupies several houses on that block. It says the 2,600 square foot house is not big enough to accommodate 12 people.

"From talking with some of the people that have stayed there last summer, there's beds in the attic. There's beds in the basement. They're using a crawl space as sleeping quarters " said Quentin Wright, executive director of Mole Hill Community Housing Society.

Quentin Wright, executive director at Mole Hill Community Housing Society, says Airbnb listings like the one on the same block as his organization are cutting into Vancouver's affordable housing supply. (CBC)

A Share Accommodations runs the Airbnb listing and did not return CBC's call for comment.

Wright estimates there are 1,000 Airbnb units in Vancouver's West End neighbourhood, where there are already very few vacancies. Mole Hill has closed its waiting list because it's too long, he said.

'Self-interest and profit'

The longtime Vancouver resident wants the city to crack down on people who make money from short-term rentals without having a business license.

He shared his concerns with city council at Wednesday's hearing on Airbnb.

"Tourists are coming to Vancouver, staying in an unlicensed, unregulated, uninsured firetrap, that's rented to them by someone whose real name they may never know, operating an illegal business that pays no taxes," he told councilors. 

"It's not a sharing economy, it's about self-interest and profit."

City council passed a motion to work on creating better regulations on Airbnb Wednesday.

With files from Belle Puri

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