British Columbia

Former owner of illegal B.C. Airbnb hostel sentenced to 30 days in jail

Emily Yu has been in and out of court for more than half a decade as the city of North Vancouver and her strata attempted to get her to stop using her townhome as a hostel, listed on sites like Airbnb, and Trip Advisor.

Emily Yu blamed her actions on mixture of intoxication, a hangover, a medical flare-up and poor English skills

Emily Yu used to operate a 15-bed hostel out of her North Vancouver townhome. (Jason Proctor/CBC)

The former owner of a 15-bed illegal hostel in North Vancouver has been sentenced to 30 days in jail following a years-long legal battle involving a three-bedroom, five-level townhome operating as a short-term vacation rental known as the Oasis Hostel.

The saga featured exasperated neighbours, multiple strata bylaw violations, and at its centre, former owner Emily Yu.

Yu has been in and out of court for more than half a decade as the city of North Vancouver and her strata attempted to get her to stop using her townhome as a hostel, listed on sites like Airbnb, and Trip Advisor.

In November 2020, Yu was arrested after she tried to block potential buyers from viewing her townhouse in defiance of a court order. She locked the gate entrance with padlocks. The court says she was argumentative and physically resistant.

In the summer of 2020, a judge ordered the sale of the townhome to help pay off more than $52,000 in legal fees Yu's strata had racked up trying to force the closure of the hostel.

She was found guilty of disobeying a court order without lawful excuse in April 2021.

"I am not able to find that being convicted in this matter has served to bring home to her the seriousness of her conduct and her responsibility for it," said provincial court Judge Joanne Challenger in her reasons for sentence.

"I find Ms. Yu's ongoing defiance has been so wilful and deliberate that a significant period of incarceration is necessary to serve the need for denunciation and both general and specific deterrence."

'Escaping liability'

Throughout the sentencing proceedings, Challenger described Yu as non-compliant and resistive, adding that her conduct "was characterized by contempt for the process and for the rule of law."

The court attempted to conduct a pre-sentence report with a psychiatric component to determine whether Yu's actions and the criminal offence could be attributed to a disorder, but the document says Yu chose not to engage in the process.

During the trial, Yu argued she didn't understand the court order because of her lack of English skills. A claim that was rejected by the court once it became clear through the proceedings that her speaking ability and comprehension were "quite good."

Yu claimed she was drunk or hungover and in the middle of a medical flare-up leading to her lapse in judgment and understanding when she disobeyed the court order. But the court found those claims lacked evidence.

A pair of dogs awaits visitors to a North Vancouver townhouse which has served as both an Airbnb hostel and a pet-sitting service, according to a decision from B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal- (Airbnb)

Challenger wrote that Yu would often show up late to the proceedings or she wouldn't appear at all. But once the court ordered that she arrive on time as a condition of her release, punctuality was no longer a problem.

Yu also failed to turn off or silence her phone on multiple occasions. But once she was told it would be seized by the court if it were not silenced, the phone was no longer an issue.

"I infer from this conduct that Ms. Yu is well able to understand directions and change her behaviour when she sees it as being in her interest to do so," wrote Challenger.

"Despite her issues, whatever they may be, she has acted purposefully with a view to escaping liability and has said and done whatever she thought in the moment would best serve her ends."

A reference letter from a member of Yu's church described her as smart and hardworking but also said she was "reckless, too ambitious, paranoid, troubled, stubborn and isolated."

Despite the order for the sale of the home, Challenger noted that Yu continues to believe she is the rightful owner, returning to the property in the spring of 2021 and claiming she had a right to possess it as recently as mid-2022.

Following her release from prison, Yu will face one-year probation that prohibits her from being within 100 metres of the former Oasis Hostel.


Joel Ballard is a reporter with the CBC in Vancouver. You can reach him at