Frustrated Victoria family calls on city to crack down on Airbnb rentals
City of Victoria currently investigating 18 complaints about short-term rentals
A couple in Victoria says living next to an Airbnb rental is causing all kinds of headaches and they want the city to do more to stop short-term vacation rentals from operating in residential areas.
Melanie Wood and her husband bought half a duplex in a Victoria neighbourhood in May.
"We understood the risks of buying a duplex," Wood said. "Not everybody gets along with their neighbours," she said.
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But Wood said her family didn't sign up for having different neighbours just about every day who don't know where to park or where to put the garbage.
Wood says that has been the family's reality since the four-bedroom unit next door was turned into an Airbnb rental.
Since then, there has been a revolving set of guests, some of whom have even come into her backyard garden.
"That gets difficult," she said. "I know you would like a mojito, but please don't steal my mint," she said.
The City of Victoria says the unit where the Airbnb is operating is not in an area of the city that permits these short-term rentals.
In Victoria, they are only allowed in certain area that are zoned specifically for transient accommodation.
The city has confirmed a complaint has been received about the short-term rental next to Wood.
But city clerk Chris Coates says building a case and enforcing the rules is a growing challenge.
Bylaw officers are currently dealing with 18 complaints about short-term rentals, along with their various other enforcement duties, Coates said.
"Our bylaw enforcement staff are sort of running at full tilt," he said.
Stronger enforcement planned
The city usually gives people 30 days to wrap up a vacation rental business that is found to be in contravention of zoning bylaws, Coates said.
After that, the city can levy fines or take the property owner to court.
But more aggressive enforcement may be coming.
City council has asked staff to come up with an enforcement strategy to deal with the proliferation of short-term rentals. That is scheduled to go before council next month.
Wood says she hopes her family's experience will be taken into account.
"I think in a lot of ways it is changing the fabric of our community," she said. "We don't have the families in the houses. We don't have the stable community."
The owner of the Airbnb told CBC News that she has not been contacted by the city and was not aware of the complaint. She declined to comment further.
But Wood says the owner moved back into the basement of the home a few days ago to help enforce rules for the Airbnb and help resolve the situation.