City of Vancouver cracks down on illegal short-term rentals

THE City of Vancouver has escalated enforcement on three high profile residential operators illegally operating short-term rentals at a commercial scale.

The Level, located at 1022 Seymour Street, was issued orders related to illegal operations and has paid fines totaling $24,000. Bylaw violations by Vancouver Extended Stay and Carmana Plaza have been referred to prosecution.

In April, media outlets reported to the City that these operators were renting multiple units as short-term rentals. The City investigated these cases and gathered evidence to confirm the illegal rental activity. The City has been in contact with the owners of each building and pursued enforcement actions based on the response.

Onni operates the Level. The company has agreed to immediately stop short-term rentals and to pay fines related to activity over the past six months, the legal statute of limitations.

Vancouver Extended Stay offers property management services to owners of suites at 1288 West Georgia Street and 1200 Alberni Street. They have also agreed to immediately stop short-term rentals, however the property management service and the suite owners must all obtain business licenses to come into by-law compliance.

Carmana Plaza located at 1128 Alberni Street has received zoning approval to convert 96 suites to hotel use. The conversion process is not complete as the company must obtain occupancy permits and a business license. Short-term rentals in the 96 suites remain illegal until the process is complete. Carmana Plaza has agreed to stop accepting new short-term rental reservations, but the company is not willing to cancel existing future short-term rental reservations.

Short-term rentals are not currently allowed in Vancouver. Currently, only hotels and licensed bed and breakfast operators can rent residential units for less than 30 days at a time.

The City is working on a policy framework to legalize some short-term rentals, with the goal of enabling people who want to live and work in Vancouver to rent their principal residence in the short term, while also putting measures in place to protect the long-term rental stock.

The City’s priorities for enforcement action are large-scale or commercial operators as well as short-term rentals that are unsafe or a nuisance. This escalated enforcement of these three buildings is part of an ongoing effort to enforce against short-term rentals while the City finalizes a formal policy and regulatory framework.

Vancouver residents are encouraged to call 311 if they suspect illegal short-term rentals and should be prepared to provide an address and evidence of the activity.