British Columbia

Notorious illegal hostel owner has human rights complaint dismissed

A North Vancouver woman who was repeatedly ordered to shut down her illegal 15-bed hostel won't get another chance to argue she needs the extra income because she's disabled.

North Vancouver's Emily Yu argued her strata discriminated against her on the basis of disability

North Vancouver townhouse owner Emily Yu argued she needs the income from her Airbnb rentals because of a disability. (CBC/Jason Proctor)

A North Vancouver woman who was repeatedly ordered to shut down her illegal 15-bed hostel won't get another chance to argue she needs the extra income because she's disabled.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has declined to hear Emily Yu's complaint alleging discrimination by her townhouse strata, saying the issue had already been dealt with by the Civil Resolution Tribunal and the B.C. Supreme Court.

"I can see no principled reason to allow her to re‐litigate the same issue again, this time in a different forum. As the Supreme Court of Canada has said: 'Forum shopping for a different and better result can be dressed up in many attractive adjectives, but fairness is not among them,'" tribunal member Devyn Cousineau wrote in Wednesday's decision.

Yu's strata, the City of North Vancouver and the courts have all told Yu to stop booking short-term guests for her three-bedroom townhouse. She was advertising up to 15 beds in the "Oasis Hostel" on sites like Airbnb, iBooked.ca and TripAdvisor.

The operation violated strata bylaws, and the city described it as a nuisance and a fire hazard.

In April, Yu was fined $5,000 for contempt of court after she refused to abide by an order of the Civil Resolution Tribunal and continued to rent out the beds.

But Yu told the human rights tribunal that she needed the extra income because she has a disability.

She said she planned to raise new issues that "could potentially affect many marginalized women" and said dismissing her complaint would result in a "miscarriage of justice," according to Wednesday's decision.

As Cousineau pointed out, however, Yu had previously raised the disability issue when she tried to appeal the Civil Resolution Tribunal decision in B.C. Supreme Court.

As part of her appeal, she submitted an affidavit and portions of a psychiatric assessment outlining her disabilities, which appear to include post-concussion problems, but the judge said there was "insufficient evidence" of a mental disability that would justify her continued violation of the strata bylaw.

Yu's strata applied to the court last year, asking for an order forcing Yu to sell her unit, but the judge has yet to make a decision on that, calling it a "remedy of last resort."

Airbnb has suspended Yu and her listing is no longer available on TripAdvisor.