Watch out, Airbnb: Vancouver cracks down on short-term rentals

By: Jessica Mach on November 15, 2017

The City of Vancouver is cracking down on short-term rentals after announcing a series of new restrictions that effectively bans properties from being used full-time on sites like Airbnb.

Under the new regulations, short-term rentals will only be permitted in homes that already have principal tenants — e.g., tenants that reside in them most of the year. Units that exist solely, or even just primarily, to be rented out for short periods – the city defines “short-term” as periods that span 30 days or less – will no longer be allowed to operate. The restrictions come into effect in April 2018.

It’s clear that with these new policies, the City hopes to pressure such units into joining the long-term rental market.

The approved regulations had been proposed by City staff last June to address the 6,000+ illegal short-term rentals operating in Vancouver. In October, more than 100 speakers spoke out about short-term rental issues in a public hearing that lasted two days.

“The City's new regulations strike a fair balance that will ensure the best use of all our housing,” said Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson. “They will protect and ultimately free up more long-term rental stock, which is desperately needed to help us solve our rental housing crisis and provide homes for the thousands of renters who are struggling.

Many have blamed the popularity of short-term rentals for contributing to expensive housing in Canada, especially in cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, which also attract a large number of tourists.

Both cities are the most expensive in Canada for homebuyers, and are among the most expensive cities in the world to own property. Robertson said the new rules will protect both homebuyers and those who do rent out their properties on websites like Airbnb.

“The new rules recognize that many people rely on extra income from short-term rentals in their own homes in order to make ends meet.”

Residents looking to rent their principal residence will need to apply for a business license. Those who rent short-term without a license will be fined up to $1,000 per infraction.