Neighbour finds ‘Vancouver special’ turned into commercial Airbnb hotel

By Lisa Tanh

An East Vancouver resident has discovered a ‘Vancouver special’ in her neighbourhood that has been turned into a commercial Airbnb hotel.

Ulrike Rodrigues, who lives in the Mount Pleasant area, said a nearby Vancouver special “went through massive renovations centered around a very modern laneway house in the back of the property.”

The Vancouver special now has a “hotel-like entrance” with a sign that reads “Welcome to the Aviary, an Airbnb” and is allegedly connected to the laneway house in the back. Vancouver specials are houses with a “box-like” structure that are known as “cheap and easy to build.”

“When I got home, I Googled “The Aviary Airbnb Vancouver” and discovered that the whole top floor of that Vancouver special is six rooms and has been turned into a hotel,” Rodrigues said. “When I did a bit more looking, my suspicions were fulfilled which is that the laneway house has two suites and one is entirely an Airbnb. So basically, that’s seven Airbnb listings on one corner lot and that’s just against the law.”

Rodrigues said “it appears that a lot of people are applying for permits to build laneway houses” which goes against “the idea of laneway houses to create more residential housing.”

“All you have to do is Google ‘new laneway Vancouver Airbnb’ and you’d be surprised at how many listings come up because people actually say in their listings ‘newly built laneway house,” Rodrigues said.

After Rodrigues discovered a similarity between the Vancouver special and laneway house Airbnb descriptions[1] which offer stays of less than 30 days, she texted the host of the laneway house.

“I texted him asking ‘Are you connected to the aviary?,” Rodrigues said. “At first, he said no but when I said ‘That’s really funny because your description sounds really similar,’ he said that’s my brother.”

Rodrigues said she reported the Vancouver special and laneway house to the City of Vancouver through its VanConnect app.

The city sent Rodrigues an email saying they have transferred her complaints into their system which she describes as “good” and “makes it official.” Rodrigues hopes to see the city take further action by shutting down the hotel operation.

“Imagine this, this is a corner property, shabby Vancouver special, brand spanking new sexy laneway house in the back, seven Airbnb listings,” Rodrigues said.

The city introduced laneway houses 2009 as a new form of “rental- and family housing in single-family areas.” [2]

It is currently illegal for homeowners to run Airbnb hotels in laneway houses and basement suites and will remain illegal even under the new short-term rental bylaws coming into force in April 2018.[3]

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