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Proposed changes to Vancouver’s short-term rental rules to add pressure to illegal hotels

If approved next week, changes to the City of Vancouver's short-term rental rules could turn up the heat on illegal hotels. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Bayne Stanley

Proposed changes to the City of Vancouver’s short-term rental rules could turn up the heat on commercial operators of illegal hotels.

A CKNW investigation uncovered a number of developers flouting rules for years – raking in huge profit at the expense of Vancouver’s rising rental rates.

READ MORE: City of Vancouver hopes new Airbnb rules will free up 1,000 rental units

Chief License Inspector Kathryn Holm said that if the changes are approved, illegal hotels would be hit with prosecution netting fines as high as $10,000 per day.

“For those operators we really are looking to advance the file. Working with our legal support folks here, and really looking to look to prosecution, really taking the best steps we can to halt the operation,” said Holm.

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In contrast, an individual running an illegal short-term rental in a condo they own or a basement suite could be fined as much as $1,000 per violation, which could be levied every day the rules are broken.

“In those cases, tickets may not be the approach that we would take. Rather we would look to pursue a bigger prosecution file against the operator.”

READ MORE: Break-ins at Vancouver condo tower blamed on short-term rentals

Proposed rules announced on Wednesday would make short-term rentals of secondary homes and suites illegal in Vancouver.

Critics of the current rules have long-argued the penalties were so minor, they were seen by violators as the “cost of doing business.”

Earlier this year, Onni was leveled a $24,000 fine following a CKNW investigation, but critics argue it was likely a small fraction of what the developer made from breaking the rules.

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