Massive commercial operators continue to run illegal Airbnb hotels in Vancouver despite City of Vancouver’s “crack down”

By Lisa Tanh

Suite Living[1], who claim to be one of the largest furnished rental companies in Vancouver, has been promoting multiple short term rentals in Vancouver and Richmond through their website and Airbnb. Currently, it remains illegal to run STRs for less than 30 days at a time – with the exception of licensed hotels and bed-and-breakfasts.

Ulrike Rodrigues, a local housing activist, dug into Suite Living’s Airbnb profile[2] and found it was created in 2012 and has a total of 15 active listings.

“They are for entire houses and apartments,” Rodrigues said. “For example, one house I looked at is a ‘brand new’[3] five-bedroom house in East Vancouver.”

Rodrigues said she’s noticed more commercial operators illegally brokering “vacation rentals” through Airbnb.

“‘Zul,’ on Airbnb has 12 units listed on Airbnb, 10 of them in my East Vancouver strata apartment building,” Rodrigues said. “At the end of my block, ‘Adam,’[4] has turned a family house into a six-room hotel called The Aviary. Top of the list is ‘Vanessa,’[5] [who] has a standalone operation called Vancouver Airbnb Management[6] [and] offers to ‘manage your Vancouver property on Airbnb while you sit back and reap the rewards of short-term rental.”

“[They] are using Airbnb to broker accommodations to tourists, not housing to local residents,” she said. “This could get much worse if the city doesn’t clamp down hard in April.”

In April, STRs will be allowed under new rules such as having an STR business license[7] – which Rodrigues said would help enforce bylaws. But, she questions how the community can help the city be more effective.

“Will the city open up a channel of communication – online, by phone, or in-person – so [we] can help them out by reporting blatant infractions?” Rodrigues asked.

ThinkPol asked the city how they plan on following through with cracking down on commercial operators.

In an emailed statement, communications manager, Neal Wells, said, “Current enforcement is complaint-driven and is prioritized on commercial operators, nuisance properties and unsafe dwellings, none of which will be legal under the new policy. The city encourages anyone who suspects illegal short-term rental activity to report the address to VanConnect or 3-1-1.”

When ThinkPol pressed the city on alternatives to VanConnect or 3-1-1, Wells responded, “Please see how the city enforces the rules around this here:”

The city’s website did not list any alternatives and instead repeated information from their statement.

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