Posted on April 8, 2016
Five things I’ve been told about Air BnB: good, bad and ugly
Ever since coverage began last week about my motion to step up city oversight of Air BnB listings and their impact on rental stock, my inbox has been receiving a complete range of comment, positive and negative, on this important issue.
Here are five samples, in no particular order, names removed for privacy:
1. Councillor Meggs, you should be ashamed
from a concerned Vancouver resident and AirBnB host:
Councillor Meggs: yourself, the mayor and the rest of the council should be absolutely ashamed at how you are handling Vancouver’s housing crisis. You are turning a blind eye to the needs of the everyday working people in this city and are allowing Vancouver to become a playground for the wealthy. Instead of tackling the real aforementioned issues, you are pointing the finger at AirBnB hosts because this is the easy option and it makes you look like you’re doing your job. You’re not fooling me . . .
I know from personal experience that AirBnB rentals create a net-positive community and economic impact in Vancouver, and I welcome any regulations, licenses or taxation so that myself and other residents can continue to thrive instead of just merely survive in this beautiful city we call home.
2. Our condo community is under assault
from a Yaletown resident
Our building, like most downtown condos have seen a radical shift from long term renters to short term vacation rentals. This erodes the residential nature of our complex. For example, we become ‘party-central’ during special events like the Rubgy 7’s, or Women’s World Cup Soccer. Drunken brawls, interfere with resident families’ quiet enjoyment of our homes. Drunken revellers have full access to the children’s play area, spa, etc. causing serious tensions and parental concern. Our population of Chinese seniors is particularly negatively impacted by these shenanigans.
Further, these short term rentals increase costs. Heavy hotel type use of amenities, elevators, etc. drive up our maintenance costs, making home ownership and long term rentals more expensive.
Our strata corporation bylaws forbid short term vacation rentals, and we levy fines. However, the Strata Property Act is not particularly friendly to strata corporations attempting to achieve compliance. Many owners just continue with their activities regardless of bylaws.
3. I love it, but ban it
I’ve been on both sides of Air BnB as both host and user, I think it’s great and I love it. But Vancouver should definitely make it illegal within the city. There is already a massive shortage of rental units within the city (I know, I just spent 3 horrific months looking) with 3000-5000 units lost to Air BnB. It’s hard enough to live in a city where a one bedroom suite can cost $800-$1000 if that suite was suddenly $80 per night with black out nights where you had to move somewhere else it would be almost impossible to find a home in an already difficult market. Plus there are already legit bnbs that are licenced and pay taxes. No to AirBnB in Vancouver.
4. Enforcement has to be quick and effective
A resident unhappy with the city’s response:
In my view there was no truly effective CoV enforcement remediation to what were multiple blatant and illegal bylaw, development and business operation violations, and the impacts and concerns of neighbouring properties and owners were effectively dismissed and subordinated vis a vis the illegal business operations activity and illegal development that occurred by neighbouring property owners. Law abiding neighbours who actually follow bylaws are just left to deal with any impacts and fallout, including building code and safety concerns being completely ignored by the CoV. This is viewed as completely unacceptable as left unchecked issues are only expected to get worse over time.