Vancouver suspends short-term rental licences amid court battle over host privacy

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The City of Vancouver appears to be cracking down on those not following the rules around short-term rentals amid a legal fight over whether it should release its short-term rental database.

On Dec. 17, 2021 the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of B.C. ordered the city to release its records of short term rental license holders following a freedom of information request.

The city had until Jan. 28, 2022 to do that.

But the day before the deadline, Airbnb launched a petition in the BC Supreme Court to have the order thrown out.

Airbnb argued the release of information could threaten license holders’ safety, is a violation of their privacy and that the deadline to make the information public was unreasonably short.

Story continues below advertisement

Housing advocates are questioning the timing of the petition, as it was launched nearly a month and a half after the privacy commissioner’s decision.

Advocate and former Vancouver city council candidate Rohana Rezel has claimed responsibility for submitting the freedom of information request that sparked the legal battle.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

On his website, Rezel said he made the same freedom of information request to the city three years ago, but was told that the data could not be released due to security and privacy concerns.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday the city of Vancouver held business licence hearings for two people suspected of breaking of short term rental bylaws.

Story continues below advertisement

There were no hearings of this nature held in 2021.

In each hearing, council upheld the suspension of a short-term rental licence of a host who the city believes had been renting out a property where they don’t actually live.

Short term rentals are only allowed in a host’s primary residence, per a bylaw established in 2018.

The last time this type of hearing was held was September of 2020.

Sponsored content