British Columbia

City of Vancouver launches online survey to gather feedback on short-term rentals

The survey follows the release of data from the city last week which showed that there are up to 5,000 active short-term rentals in the city, with 85 per cent of those on Airbnb.

City wants to know what people think are the pros, cons of short-term rentals in survey running until Aug. 3

New data released by the city shows companies like Airbnb are providing up to 5,000 short-term rentals in Vancouver. (Airbnb)

A survey on the City of Vancouver's website has launched today to offer the public the chance to tell the city what they think are the pros and cons of short-term rentals, which are often listed on platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO.

Comments from the online survey, which is available until Aug. 3, will be provided to city council, which has asked staff to come up with ways to regulate short-term housing rental services such as Airbnb.

The survey follows the release of data from the city July 17 which showed that there are up to 5,000 active short-term rentals in Vancouver — 85 per cent of them on Airbnb.

The data also shows two-thirds of the listings are for entire houses, condos or apartments as opposed to shared spaces.

Effect on vacancy rate?

"There's no doubt in my mind that it's having an impact on our rental market," said Councillor Geoff Meggs, whose party, Vision Vancouver, has promised to figure out what impact short-term rentals are having on the city's rental vacancy rate, which is currently at 0.6 per cent.

"We hear about people making a little bit of extra income here and there and so on," said Meggs.

"They may feel that that's a good thing and it certainly is good for them, but it's at the expense, we think, of the affordability of our rental stock, the availability of it and the kind of rents that are being paid."

Meggs says he hopes by December there will be enforceable rules in place which will deal with consumer protection and public safety issues while protecting Vancouver's rental stock.

Meggs says these initiatives will be paid for through the business licence fees of the people trying to deliver the service, not by the taxpayer.

City of Vancouver bylaws currently prohibit rentals for a period of less than one month unless the unit is part of a hotel or bed and breakfast.

Airbnb host sees positives to short-term rentals

Michael Schratter, an Airbnb host in Vancouver, frequently rents out his attic, and also rents his entire house out for a few weeks in the year while traveling out of town in summer and over Christmas.

Michael Schratter, an Airbnb host in Vancouver, frequently rents out his attic and also rents his entire house out for a few weeks in the year while travelling out of town in the summer and over Christmas. (Charlie Cho/CBC)

He said his family loves "being ambassadors for Vancouver" by offering people a place to stay and highlighting various sights in the city for guests.

Schratter doesn't think that renting out his attic throughout the year takes a unit away from the rental stock in the city — and said he doesn't consider trying to rent it out on a long-term basis because he likes the flexibility of short-term rentals.

"The longest people usually stay is perhaps a week," he said.

"I think a lot of people here who spend a disproportionate amount of their income on mortgages are finding unique ways to survive in this city, and I'm one of those people.

"Me renting my attic … to a traveling student that's in town for three or four days has nothing to do with the issue here."

With files from The Early Edition and Chad Pawson


To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: City of Vancouver launches online survey to gather feedback on short-term, Airbnb-style rentals

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