Vancouver City Council has approved an annual licence fee to help regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb.
Anyone who lists their property as a short-term rental on websites such as Airbnb and Expedia will now have to buy a $49 annual license, which must be posted on their online listing.
The new regulations will also ban residents from listing units that aren’t their principal residence on sites like Airbnb.
“We have about 30,000 secondary suites that are registered in the city. And if we were to open up everything to short-term rentals we could see thousands and thousands more rental units lost,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
Platforms like Airbnb will also be required to charge a three-per-cent transaction fee. All cash collected will go to administration and enforcement of the licensing regime.
Some Airbnb hosts criticized the rules at a public hearing last month, saying the changes will deprive them of occasional, much-needed income.
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.
The city says about 6,000 short-term rentals are in operation and these new rules are expected to affect between 800 and 1,600 suites.
It estimates the rules will free up about 1,000 long term rental units, while legalizing about 70 per cent of current short-term rental listings.
The City of Victoria, which is also facing a tight rental market, says it is also weighing its own “Airbnb bylaw.”
“We have report coming to council next week proposing a regulatory framework that’s quite similar to Vancouver’s that includes the principal residence requirement,” said councillor Ben Isitt.
Isitt said Victoria has already implemented other regulations to try and rein in short-term rentals, including ending permits that allowed the listings in downtown residential condos.
-With files from Liza Yuzda and Simon Little, CKNW and The Canadian Press