Consumer group calls Vancouver's proposed regulations for Airbnb "nothing but a tax grab"

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      A consumer-advocacy group has accused the City of Vancouver of orchestrating a “cash grab” as part of its efforts to regulate Airbnb and other short-term rental services.

      This morning (October 27), the Consumer Choice Center, which is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, issued a media release that criticizes some of the bylaws that Vancouver city councillors and citizens have debated at City Hall this week.

      Specifically, the Consumer Choice Center doesn’t like an annual license fee that Vancouver residents who advertise units on digital services like Airbnb would have to pay if the new rules pass.

      "Adding in a $49 license is nothing but a cash grab that has nothing to do with safety or quality,” said David Clement, the Consumer Choice Center’s North American affairs manager, quoted in the release. “The City has simply identified something that consumers like, and decided that it can generate revenue off of it.”

      In addition, Clement took issue with proposed rules that would not allow Vancouver residents to rent secondary suites out for stays of less than 30 days.

      “The proposal to ban secondary residence rentals is completely inappropriate,” he continued in the release. “The ban would significantly limit short term rental options for tourists, and ultimately violate the property rights of Vancouver home owners.”

      The proposed ban on short-term rentals of secondary suites is one provision of the proposed rules that has attracted some controversy during public hearings that were held on October 24 and 26.

      Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson has defended the ban, arguing that basement suites and the like are an important part of the city’s rental stock and therefore need to be protected.

      “Our approach is to strike a balance between regulating the short-term rentals and ensuring that some people can continue to do that,” Robertson said at a news conference in September 2016, when the city began to reveal details of its plans to regulate short-term listings.

      “We are primarily concerned about the impact of short-term rentals on the long-term rental supply, and are recognizing that there is space for people to have short-term rentals in their principle homes to help supplement income in this expensive city,” he continued.

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