(Instagram - @airbnb)

Vancouver wants to license Airbnb hosts

New Vancouver rules would allow most Airbnb-style rentals – with a licence

Vancouver is proposing new regulations for short-term rentals including Airbnb and Expedia that would require hosts to hold a licence and only allow them to rent out their primary residence.

The city has been mulling rules for the popular vacation-rental websites for more than a year and on Wednesday unveiled a plan that will be debated by council next week.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said Vancouver is in a rental housing crunch, with a vacancy rate that has dipped below one per cent. He estimated at least 1,000 rental units could be freed up by the new regulations.

“Short-term rentals like Airbnb have gobbled up a lot of the long-term rental supply,” he said. “Our bottom line continues to be that our housing is for homes first, and for business and investment second.”

RELATED: Airbnb Experience a ‘risk’ to mainstream tourism

People who rent out their units on Airbnb or similar websites would be required to hold a $49 annual licence issued by the city, and the licence details would have to be included on the rental platform advertisement.

The framework would ban short-term rentals of secondary residences but would allow home owners and renters to list and rent their principal homes, including entire units and private rooms.

In addition to the fee from operators, rental platforms such as Airbnb would have to apply a transaction fee of up to three per cent and remit that money to the city.

RELATED: American firm to monitor Nelson’s Airbnb licences

Robertson said short-term rentals now make up 30 per cent of Vancouver’s accommodations for tourists and Airbnb is effectively the city’s largest hotel.

“Our focus is on ensuring that we do protect our long-term rental housing and also that we ensure that people can make supplemental income from short-term rentals,” he said.

“It has become an important income source for many Vancouverites.”

Currently, rentals of less than 30 days are prohibited without a hotel or bed-and-breakfast licence. Ninety-seven per cent of short-term listings are illegal, according to a staff report issued last fall.

Robertson said the new rules would legalize up to 70 per cent of existing “entire unit” listings and virtually all “private room” short-term rentals.

Vancouver following other cities in regulations

The city is the latest Canadian jurisdiction to grapple with the rise of Airbnb and similar websites. Quebec became the first province to impose regulations last year, including requiring users to have a permit and pay a hotel tax, while Toronto is mulling rules similar to those floated in Vancouver.

Karen Sawatzky, with Simon Fraser University’s urban studies department, has examined Airbnb’s impact on rental housing in Vancouver. She said she was pleased the city did not allow secondary suites or laneway houses to be short-term rentals.

She added that she understood that the city set the annual fee relatively low in order to encourage people to get licensed, but she didn’t think that a $49 fee would cover enforcement costs.

Sawatzky said 1,000 units being freed up for long-term rental housing would be “fantastic.”

“I don’t think that’s going to happen overnight, but that would certainly be very significant, especially considering how hard it is to get new housing built in this city.”

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Whalers stop Saints from marching ahead in OT

Ballenas junior varsity to face Vernon Panthers in the finals at BC Place Dec. 2

Flood risks downgraded in the RDN

Effective immediately, the Regional District of Nanaimo is deactivating it’s Level 1… Continue reading

Qualicum Beach councillor wants First Nations to be recognized

Barry Avis wants to acknowledge traditional land before town meetings

VIDEO: Parksville Qualicum Beach firefighters come up big in annual food drive

Thousands of pounds of food donations gathered for food bank

Qualicum Beach age restriction bylaw sent back to staff for changes

Legal non-conforming status could effect property values, councillor says

Parksville gift shop turned into gingerbread house

Resort buys hundreds of pounds of gingerbread, icing and candy

Vehicle found, woman still missing, last seen in Parksville

Oceanside RCMP requesting public assistance in locating Carmel Georgina Gilmour

SOS, Tigh-Na-Mara team to put toys under trees in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Ninth annual toy drive part of 50th SOS Christmas program

An adopted cat is the best 10 pounds you’ll gain this season

BC SPCA encouraging families to add a forever feline friend during adoption event Nov. 24 to Dec. 3

Uber official says public needs to push for ridesharing in B.C.

Mike van Hemmen tells Kelowna Chamber of commerce ridesharing would be ‘win-win-win’

15 arrested as Duncan police raid yields drugs, stolen property

Arrests made, drugs and stolen property seized

B.C. co-ops relieved with Ottawa’s housing strategy

Federal government to have a new co-operative housing funding model in place by 2020

Mounties dismantle counterfeiters ring with raid in Maple Bay Thursday

Counterfeiting paraphernalia found along with firearms, stolen property as police swept in Nov. 23

B.C. NDP referendum plan sparks legislature battle

David Eby says public will decide on proportional referendum

Most Read