City of Vancouver introduces new regulations for short term rentals, but will they be effective?


Today the City of Vancouver approved new regulations for short-term rentals.

In April of next year, residents will be banned from listing units that are not their primary residence; however, those who want to use their principal residence will be able to use Airbnb with a licence from the city.

In a press release, Mayor Gregor Robertson said:

” I’m very pleased to see this approach to short-term rentals move forward. The City’s new regulations strike a fair balance that will ensure the best use of all our housing. They will protect and ultimately free up more long-term rental stock, which is desperately needed to help us solve our rental housing crisis and provide homes for the thousands of renters who are struggling. At the same time, the new rules recognize that many people rely on extra income from short-term rentals in their own homes in order to make ends meet.”

The city laid out the following rules for short term rentals:

  • -The new regulations will come into effect on April 1, 2018.
  • Residents will be able to apply for and receive a short-term rental licence online. Licences will cost $49 and there will be a one-time administrative fee of $54.
  • Rentals in principal residences – for both owners and renters – will be able to be legally rent for periods of less than 30 days at a time

Just how enforceable are these rules

According to Erez Aloni, assistant professor at UBC, it is a bit of a “mystery” on how exactly the city plans to enforce these new rules.

He says it will require cooperation for Airbnb to report people who do not obtain a licence from the city; however, he says these people may just switch to a different platform or may just try and go onto Craigslist.

The City estimates at least 1,000 of the currently illegal rentals are not principal residences and would not be supported as short-term rentals under the new regulations.

Kaye Krishna, General Manager of Development, Buildings and Licensing says, ” Establishing a legal licensing system allows us to have clear rules about what is and isn’t allowed and offers a strengthened enforcement system so we can respond to complaints more quickly and with stronger fines and even legal action.”

Aloni points out that there are going to be challenges with this system, saying ” I can already point out the problems with them. The problem of actually discerning who is a primary resident and who is not is a weak spot. The problem of how to actually enforce and what to do with those who do not comply is another one.”

The pro’s and consĀ 

While Aloni says there are going to be challenges, he also pointed out that there are some strengths with these new regulations.

For starters, he says if these regulations prove effective, then it will go a long way in getting rid of residents who treat their homes like hotels.

” The apartment next to you is being rented twice a year. There is some loud music and perhaps some nuisance. Twice a year you can deal with that. Now imagine the same scenario when someone does it the entire year or 9 months a year, in which an apartment just becomes a hotel room”

One con that Aloni specifically addressed was the fact that renters may have a tough time getting short term rental approval from their landlord; a requirement in order to obtain a licence from the City.

” If they are renters, they will have to show that their landlord agrees for them to sublet, to use the apartment for Airbnb or the other the platforms. I believe very few landlords are going to agree to it.”

Aloni also praised the city for making the licence fee affordable, saying that in place such as San Francisco it would cost you a lot