The City of Vancouver says it has taken enforcement against 820 suspected illegal short-term rentals (STR) in the last six months.
Vancouver’s new short-term rental regulations took full effect on Sept. 1, 2018, and the city says it has opened more than 2,000 case files since then.
One of those cases involved a commercial operator listing 35 units in two properties. The city said that operator was fined $20,000 for one property and has a court date set for the other, and that it had closed its STR business licences for both properties with the city.
The city says two other operators have pleaded guilty to violating the city’s STR bylaw, and both are facing $2,500 fines.
“The early results of enforcement in the first six months of our new short-term rentals program are encouraging,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a media release.
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“This program is one of many designed to move more supply into the long-term rental market because housing in our city needs to be first and foremost for those who live and work in Vancouver.”
According to city data, it has flagged 520 licences for investigation, written 309 warning letters and issued 142 legal orders.
It has also written 274 violation tickets, identified 92 units for inspection, and referred 89 listings for prosecution. Seventeen operators have had their business licences suspended.
The city says successfully taking illegal STR operators to court is challenging, and requires city staff to undertake “extensive investigation” to ensure it has enough evidence make its case.
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“We continue to develop and refine our approach to identify and enforce against operators who knowingly evade our bylaws,” said chief licence inspector Kathryn Holm.
“We thank the members of the public who continue to provide us with information about suspected illegal operators via our dedicated reporting channels.”
The city is also reminding STR operators that if they have not already done so, they need to renew their 2018 licence for 2019, and that those who do not are at risk of enforcement.
Under the city’s bylaw, short-term rental hosts can only rent out their principal residence or single rooms, and must display a valid permit number on their listing.
Penalties for violating the regulations can reach up to $1,000 per infraction.