Vancouver tenant gives her perspective on short-term rental issue, pro and con

rentAfter a week that included meetings with Airbnb officials and Vancouver Airbnb hosts, this e-mail arrived  in my inbox from a tenant setting out exactly the issues council will have to contend with when it adopts new regulations.

Should multiple-unit hosts — effectively commercial operators — be allowed at all? And how much weight should council put, if any, on the income generation aspect of short-term rentals?

I’ve withheld the tenant’s name to protect her anonymity:

I have many friends who rent out their apartments using Airbnb. Some of these friends have entered into multiple leasing agreements primarily to rent out their downtown properties using the platform. These units are not occupied permanently, they are just for rentals. My friends as you can imagine have made a small windfall from this “venture”; enough to quit their day jobs. I believe this is an abuse of Airbnb given Vancouver’s vacancy problem, but of course I don’t voice my thoughts.

On the other hand, I rent a two-bedroom affordable housing unit in Gastown, a project in part funded by the city. I am not allowed to use Airbnb even innocently, for the purpose it was intended, short-term rentals. My landlord will threaten eviction if I even attempt to.

Since I am away from my apartment a few times per year for short durations (2 days to 1 week), mainly for work trips, I would find it extremely useful to be able to rent out my unit using a reputable platform that verifies guests, such as Airbnb. I have struggled so much financially as a single parent of a 4 year-old (due mainly to expensive rental and daycare costs combined with no child support), that we are often unable to buy groceries. I have no family help in the city so I must pay for an overnight babysitter whenever I have to be away for work. Because of this, I’m in the red. I wish that the city would permit ALL Vancouverites who rent to be able to use Airbnb for its intended purpose.

As you know, Vancouver is very unaffordable for young people and families. Giving us the rights to rent our apartments within limits would help so many. My friends are getting ahead tremendously because their landlords allow them to rent their units; on the other hand, someone like myself who really could use the extra income, is denied.

Thanks so much for hearing my story.

Best of luck with the new regulations,