Vancouver city council is expected to vote on a contentious new bylaw to regulate short term rentals (STRs) like Airbnb on Tuesday.
Under the proposed new rules, hosts would be required to buy an annual licence for $49, which would have to be displayed on the rental listing.
Hosts would be banned from listing units that aren’t their principal residences, and they would have to pay income tax on the rentals and ensure they fit building safety guidelines.
Platforms like Airbnb would also be required to charge a three-per-cent transaction fee. All cash collected would go to administration and enforcement of the licensing regime.
WATCH: Vancouver short-term rental rules go to public
Short-term rentals have been at the centre of a raging debate in the city, where the rental vacancy rate sits below one per cent.
On one side, critics have accused the city of going soft on illegal short-term rental listings, and point to so-called “ghost hotels” where commercial operators rent out multiple units.
On the other are Airbnb hosts, many of whom packed a series of council hearings to say they rely on the income the rentals generate to make ends meet in an expensive city.
Coun. George Affleck admitted the debate has been contentious.
“There are many challenges with this report, we heard many residents with different opinions. This is part of the process,” he said.
“I’m mulling over all the sides that came and all of the opinions that came and will make my decision on Tuesday, as will the rest of council.”
Airbnb has expressed concern over the proposed provision that would bar the listing of secondary properties, suggesting the income hosts generate from renting them out helps them do things like make their mortgage payments.
Airbnb’s own study last year argued that the platform has pumped $400 million into the city’s economy in direct and secondary spending.
WATCH: Strata crackdown on short-term rentals showing promise
Currently, rentals shorter than 30 days are illegal in Vancouver absent a bed-and-breakfast or hotel licence.
However, the city said last week that enforcement directed at most hosts breaking the rules would come in the form of a warning letter.
Other building owners have decided to take matters into their own hands, such as a Yaletown strata that is trying to bring a class action lawsuit against Airbnb.
The City of Vancouver estimates that if implemented, the short-term rental bylaw would legalize about 70 per cent STR rentals for entire homes and virtually all “private room” listings.
It says the new rules should also free up about 1,000 units for long-term tenants.