British Columbia

'They can accuse me of anything': Owner of illegal hostel defiant as strata says she is in contempt of court

A North Vancouver woman who's been repeatedly ordered to shut down an illegal hostel running out of her townhouse is being taken back to court by her strata, this time for contempt of court.

North Vancouver strata is demanding Emily Yu stop renting rooms in her house and pay about $7K in fines

North Vancouver townhouse owner Emily Yu responds to comments posted by viewers of a TV story about her Airbnb battle with her strata. (CBC/Jason Proctor)

A North Vancouver woman who's been repeatedly ordered to shut down an illegal hostel in her townhouse is being taken back to court by her strata, this time for contempt of court.

The strata association is now demanding that Emily Yu stop renting rooms in her house and pay about $7,000 in strata bylaw fines. If she refuses, the strata says it will seek the power to remove Yu from her townhouse and eventually force the sale of her home.

The strata, the City of North Vancouver and the courts have all told Yu to stop using her three-bedroom, five-level Lonsdale home as a hostel, but neighbours say she continues to host guests.

Despite her property being listed on sites like TripAdvisor and iBooked.ca as the "Oasis Hostel," Yu said she is not running a hostel out of her townhouse and that she will not pay the fine.

"Nothing's going on. I'm just living my life," she told CBC News."They are not going to get a fine from me."

10 to 20 strangers per night

A year ago, B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal upheld nearly $7,000 in strata bylaw fines related to Yu's rental of her property to "a changing group of 10 to 20 strangers per night."

The bylaws were amended in 2016 after Yu started renting out as many as 15 beds a night on Airbnb. 

Residents are now expressly prohibited from using units as short-term accommodation "bed-and-breakfast, lodging house, hotel, home exchange, timeshare or vacation rental."

"I didn't break the strata rules because I started these before the strata [had] changed their rental bylaw," said Yu.

"They can accuse me of anything. They basically have nothing better to do."

Inspectors previously noted the presence of vending machines in Yu's hallways, and a petition from other residents said beds were placed in bedrooms, halls and landings, blocking access to exits

Yu's property remains listed on several websites. (iBooked.ca)

Maeve Chamberlaine, who lives in the townhouse adjacent to Yu, said that though the fall had been "quieter," Yu is still renting out rooms in her townhouse illegally.

"Over the summer there were instances where there would be upwards of 10 [people] on the patio next to me for 10 to 15 hours a day, so it was really active," she said.

Chamberlaine said she recently spoke to a young woman who said she was staying with Yu for two nights after having booked a stay on a website called Homestay.com.

Chamberlaine said she thought the ongoing saga would wrap up once the city got involved and North Vancouver's fire chief signed a cease-and-desist letter — but she was wrong.

"I think that we can anticipate that she won't cooperate or comply with any kind of existing court order, I think a piece of paper means nothing to her," she said.

"I think she's testing the justice system, she's showing us how little consequences there are if somebody just chooses to disregard ... the whole process."

Despite her property being listed on sites like TripAdvisor and iBooked.ca, Yu said she is not running a hostel out of her townhouse. (TripAdvisor)