$1000 fines part of Vancouver's new agreement with Airbnb

$1000 fines part of Vancouver's new agreement with Airbnb

"We're going to give [the city] the tools to do enforcement", said Airbnb public-policy director Alex Dagg, who was in Vancouver on Wednesday for a joint announcement with Mayor Gregor Robertson on the new bylaw and mechanisms. While hugely popular with users, Airbnb and other short-term vacation-rentals have wreaked havoc, decreasing housing for long-term renters, creating concerns for owners in strata buildings who worry they are turning into hotels, and undercutting local hotels and bed-and-breakfasts.

The Department of City Planning said in a report that there were approximately 456,000 nights booked on Airbnb alone in 2016, and an estimated 550,000 nights booked by all home-sharing companies in 2017.

Under the proposal, if a home-sharing host wishes to rent out their unit more than 120 days in a calendar year, they have to go through an administrative process where if they agree to certain conditions (registration requirements, no objections from neighbors, all nuisance citations cleared, etc...), they can be cleared to rent out rooms in the unit for up to one full year.

A study by the Technical University of Vienna showed that previous year, 2,000 apartments in the city were permanently on the list for rental in the Airbnb platform.

Anyone operating a short-term rental without a licence faces a fine of $1,000. Existing hosts have until August 31st to obtain a short-term rental business licence from the city and include it on their online listings.

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The city's enforcement team will then cross-reference it with their licensing records to identify any illegal operators. "Our agreement with Airbnb is a key step towards promoting compliance with our new short-term rental program, and we are very pleased to be working with them to help ensure all Vancouver listings on Airbnb are licensed".

Krishna said that current data suggests that 80 per cent of the 6,600 short-term rentals in the city will be allowed under the new regulations.

Last November, City Council approved regulations to allow Vancouver residents to rent their principal residence on a short-term basis.

Council is expected to enact the regulations at a meeting on April 18 and the new rules will go into effect on April 19.

The licences cost $49 a year, and will be available starting on April 19.

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