City enforcement drive on short-term rentals focuses on safety, multiple listings

IMG_1149City enforcement operations against illegal short-term online rentals is focusing primarily on safety violations and commercial operators, says a briefing note to Vancouver City Council, with notable successes on both counts.

A memorandum circulated to council October 20 by Kaye Krishna, General Manager Development Services, reports a growing number of complaints about short-term rentals, which total more than 5,300 in the city. Virtually all of the listed rentals are illegal under city rules.

Enforcement is not a simple matter of writing a ticket, but city efforts are paying off. Enforcement actions in recent weeks include:

  • successful action to bring an “Airbnb hotel” at 2341 York Ave., where 17 of 24 units were being listed online, into compliance with the minimum 30-day stay requirement and the building code;
  • the return of two townhouses to long-term rental at 730 W. 7th Ave. after enforcement action — a court hearing may be avoided if the owner signs a consent owner to prevent future infractions; and
  • enforcement action against commercial operators with more than 10 listings each — one has 12 whole-unit listings — each identified by city data analysis. The city has asked Airbnb to provide contact information for those operators.

While the enforcement action is encouraging, it remains to be seen if online operators will co-operate to support enforcement of city rules and whether or not property owners will live up to their commitments to return to long-term rental.