January 21, 2016 3:59 am

Some Vancouver stratas aim to crack down on short-term rental sites like Airbnb

WATCH: The growing popularity of Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway - or short-term home rentals - has people pressuring stratas to crack down on the practice. As Aaron McArthur reports, owners could face big fines, but may never have to pay up.

A A

A quick look at the Airbnb app shows that there are dozens of properties in downtown Vancouver listed on the online rental hub.

Now some stratas councils are getting serious about the issue, posting signs in buildings that warn owners of potential fines for short-term rentals.

“The amount of the fines is fixed by the bylaws. Under the legislation the maximum fine is $200 per transaction,” strata lawyer Paul Mendes said.

Story continues below
Global News

While stratas can impose hefty fines, there is almost no way to collect the money. Owner fines can’t be used as a lein against a property. The only remedy for strata corporations¬†is small claims court, something that hasn’t been tried yet.

“To go to court and get an injunction to stop them from using their unit as a hotel is no easy matter. You have to persuade a judge that there is no other option,” Mendes said.

So just how many local properties are listed on Airbnb?

The site isn’t forthcoming with its numbers, but extensive research last June by Simon Fraser University student Karen Sawatzky found more than 3,400 properties listed on the short-term rental site. That doesn’t include other similar websites like VRBO and HomeAway.

WATCH: Is Airbnb eroding Vancouver’s rental market?

Airbnb warns potential clients looking to rent out their apartments to first check the bylaws where they live.

In a statement to Global News, the company said it is working with the city to address some of the issues around short-term rentals. The city has struck a working group to determine the scope of the problem. Despite the controversy, they say there are only about a dozen complaints a year.

“From the city’s perspective, we haven’t had the complaints to really take issue with it, but from the affordability and the vacancy rate issue we obviously need to recognize what the impact is,” said Mukhtar Lati, the City of Vancouver’s chief housing officer.

Secure, anonymous key vaults are popping up around the city in places like coffee shops and convenience stores as a result of the growing short-term rental market. It is also making it more difficult for building concierges and neighbours to figure out who is a guest and who is a short-term renter.

The sharing economy isn’t going anywhere and figuring out how to navigate it will prove to be a challenge.

– With files from Aaron McArthur

© 2016 Shaw Media

Report an error

Comments

Global News