City Council to vote on proposed Airbnb regulations

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In the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis, Vancouver City Council is set to vote on regulating short-term rentals provided by services like Airbnb.

Licensing fee and restriction of secondary residences 

The initial motion called for a 49 dollar licensing fee for Airbnb rentals at primary residences and passed by a vote of 7 to 3. Secondary residences would not be allowed to be offered as accommodation on the site as a way to encourage homeowners to rent out to local residents and provide more rental property in Vancouver. This is a critical point as Vancouver has a rental vacancy rate of less than one percent, leading to many who work in Vancouver having to turn to other cities for housing.

Robertson: A thousand units of housing would make a difference for renters

Mayor Gregor Robertson announced that the regulations would legalize up to 70 percent of existing units and nearly all private room short-term listings in this city, and boost the long-term rental supply.

Speaking on the issue this past summer, Robertson had claimed the regulations could free up to a thousand units, which would then be free for long-term renters, not just tourists.

Airbnb responds

Airbnb had responded to the proposed changes, with Alex Dagg, Public Policy Manager for Airbnb in Canada defending those who choose to list their property on the home sharing site.

Dagg says those who rent out their space do so for about 90 nights a year, and often in order to make ends meet in a city as expensive as Vancouver. She also disputed Robertson’s claims that a thousand units of rental housing could open up.

“The city’s report makes a reference to a thousand units being added to the long-term rental market. That’s a city calculation, we don’t know where that number comes from or how they’ve made it, there are a number of assumptions made there that could be incorrect. A lot of families are home sharing on a very casual basis, it really doesn’t necessarily translate to any of those units going to the long-term rental market.”

Public consultations have been held across the city this fall, and if the regulations pass the changes would go into effect by April of 2018.