It seems the city of Vancouver might finally be cracking down on the growing number of illegal Airbnb listings.
This week, bylaw enforcement officers posted notices on the door of 1150 Comox Street, a home neighbours say has been used as an Airbnb rental. The city confirms it’s been receiving complaints about the home since last year.
“We’ve had some complaints registered in our system from 2015…from June and August of 2015, but most recently as a result of the notice that Councillor Meggs put on motion, in April of this year, we did get several complaints in regards to 1150 Comox,” said Andreea Toma, the city’s chief license inspector.
“The focus of the complaints were in regards to the short term rental.”
Through a Freedom of Information request, Global News obtained one of those complaints, where concerns cited were that the home was being rented for $900 per night and as advertised as having seven bedrooms.
As many as four inspectors visited the home a few weeks ago. The result: the homeowner has been cited for a number of violations, including unapproved renovations, an unapproved number of bedrooms and concerns surrounding smoke alarms.
“The attic was turned into a living space and that’s against the building code as well as the use,” said Toma.
“We don’t know how the electrical wiring was done. There was definitely smoke detectors missing, you know…it’s an older house, it doesn’t have sprinkling in it, so there are some concerns to that regard.”
Global News contacted the homeowner, who refused to answer any questions.
If the violations aren’t dealt with, Toma said the homeowner could be fined.
“The focus of this is to ensure the house operates for its intended use and to ensure there’s safety for the people that are there,” she said.
‘Enforce the by-laws’ say housing advocates
In a roundabout way, it seems the city might finally be cracking down on the growing number of Airbnb rentals operating in violation of existing city bylaws.
It’s a concern Quentin Wright has been raising for months. As the executive director of Mole Hill Community Housing Society, an affordable housing complex in the west end, Wright said he’s seeing the impact short term rentals are having on Vancouver’s tight housing market.
“They’re not licensed, they’re not regulated by anybody and there’s any number of by-laws that an Airbnb unit could be breaking and there’s no reason why they’re not taking action against them,” said Wright “The city is falling over itself to try and create new housing units when right out the back door, they’ve almost just lost five thousand and haven’t lifted a finger to prevent it.”
Earlier this year, city council directed staff to explore Airbnb and the impact it might be having on the city.
WATCH: The City of Vancouver has decided it will study how Airbnb can affect the rental market. As John Hua reports, some argue short-term rentals are detrimental.