Vancouver residents listing properties on Airbnb have until August 31 to obtain a business license

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      City hall has officially reached an agreement with Airbnb that will govern how short-term rentals operate in Vancouver.

      Today (April 11), the city revealed the details of a memorandum of understanding that it has established with the San Francisco-based tech company.

      Key to the agreement is a requirement for Vancouver residents who rent out a portion of all of a property for less than 30 days to now possess a business license.

      “Beginning April 19th, Airbnb will include a field for all hosts to list their short-term rental business licence,” reads a city media release. “New hosts will be required to include a business licence as part of their profile before they can post or rent their unit. Existing hosts have until August 31st to obtain a short-term rental business licence from the City and include it on their online listings. After August 31st, Airbnb will deactivate existing listings that do not include a business licence. Operators can reactivate their listing once they have obtained and entered in the licence number to the platform.”

      The release goes on to detail how the registration system will help the city track and penalize people who break the city’s new rules for short-term rentals.

      “To help ensure compliance with the City's new short-term rental regulations, Airbnb will provide a list of all Vancouver licences and associated addresses that short-term rent via their platform to the city on a quarterly basis,” it reads. “The city's enforcement team will then cross-reference it with their licensing records to identify any illegal operators.”

      The city estimates that there are about 6,000 Vancouver residents who are using Airbnb or similar digital services to rent all or a portion of a property for less than 30 days. Today’s release states that its agreement with Airbnb will catch some 88 percent of them.

      Vancouver city councillors voted to enact a legal framework for short-term rentals in November 2017.

      It includes many restrictions on how residents can Airbnb, FlipKey, and similar digital services to rent a portion or all of their home to travellers. The rules state that residents are only allowed to share their primary residence online. That means residents are not allowed to purchase an apartment as an investment, for example, and then never live it in but instead rent the unit on Airbnb. The framework also forbids residents from renting out secondary basement suits for less than 30 days at a time.

      Airbnb director of public policy Alex Dagg is quoted in today’s media release praising the new memorandum of understanding.

      "Airbnb is proud to have partnered with the City of Vancouver on this landmark agreement for Canada," she said. "This new system will make home sharing easier for Vancouverites and give the city the tools it needs to enforce their regulations."

      The city’s efforts to regulate short-term rentals were largely motivated by an understanding that services like Airbnb were being abused by Vancouver residents in ways that were eating into housing stock and therefore driving up rents.

      In October 2017, the Straight reported that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment listing in Vancouver has hit $2,000 a month.

      According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, in 2016, Metro Vancouver's vacancy rate for purpose-built rental housing was just 0.7 percent.

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