Vancouver reveals crackdown on unauthorised short-term rentals since April

Vancouver: The City of Vancouver says it has cracked down on almost a thousand unauthorised short-term rental units and suspended the licences of three operators since April.

As of 30 November, the city says since the implementation of its short-term rental regulations, 963 units are no longer being advertised on sites such as Airbnb, Expedia and Booking.com.

The city agreed a deal with Airbnb in April requiring all short-term rentals on the site to display a valid business licence number by 1 September and anyone found to be disobeying this bylaw could receive a fine of up to $1,000 a day.

Airbnb said in September it had removed around 2,500 listings which did not comply with the city’s bylaw. However, software engineer, Jens von Bergmann, noticed some rental homeowners were trying to bypass the rules as listings without a valid licence number could no longer be booked for less than 30 days while other listings had information other than a valid number in the licence field.

The city has opened more than 1,600 case files which have resulted in 363 investigations and audits, 304 warning letters, 132 legal issues being issued, 126 tickets, 59 units identified for inspection and another three licences being suspended.

Twelve case files have also been referred to prosecutors with five cases representing 17 listings in the city proceeding to a court case.

When asked about how city staff were monitoring the number of unauthorised short-term units which have been officially taken off the market, the city’s chief licence inspector said it was keeping a close eye on multiple sites.

Vancouver chief licence operator Katheryn Holm said: “We’ve been monitoring for that exact activity, anticipating that some operators may change platforms so we’re monitoring all platforms that are active in Vancouver.”

Holm said that the city was seeing an incremental rise in short-term rentals being converted into long-term rental accommodation.

The City of Vancouver added that there are 4,589 active short-term rental listings in the city with 3,161 licences being legally issued among them.