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Vancouver Imposes New Restrictions To Limit Airbnb

Many cities around the world are grappling with the sharing economy and also the housing crisis, now Vancouver has joined in that list, and they also restrict the short-term rental through Airbnb. The mayor Gregor Robertson along with the staffs have framed a proposal that would restrict the rentals of homes, as the renters or the owners rent it for some time, while the other time it is occupied by the owners or renters.

The city of Vancouver is finding and sorting out details from the study of Airbnb, it will not come to the end or it will not report any results until there is an important and valid damage to the already stressed city. So they have released the wise data analysts to do a research on the Vancouver, and list the number of available long term rentals in the city of Vancouver, in which they have found out, there are about 2570 full time Airbnb rentals. It is approximately three times higher than the 0.8% of average vacancy rates in the Vancouver city; this is according to the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Report.

These 2570 rentals are only the long rentals, which had availability of more than a month. They said that, if Airbnb server suggests the accurate measure, then they would have found about 4606 rentals. The counting was made only on the long term rentals, not on the ones, which the owners have rented their one bedroom to the Airbnb to help them pay their mortgage loans. There is no problem with the short-term rental. The problem is that, the landlords decide, for having the heavy profit they list their properties on the Airbnb site, and these landlords will not provide the rental units for the city dwellers or constituents. In some cases, they will not even pay the taxes and the hotel fees, Airbnb owners will pay for them.

Exponential growth

The exponential growth of Airbnb is not the problem at present, but the exponential growth of the companies which copy the style of Airbnb, and now they have become the competitors of Airbnb, and the growth of the Airbnb will be a problem in future if it is left unaddressed.

The competitors of Airbnb are HomeAway, which had 672 listings that were available for more than a month and FlipKey by TripAdvisor which had 266 listings, there are many other competitors of Airbnb, and these are some of them.

Laws of Airbnb

San Francisco would force the hoteliers to pay $50 as the licensing fee for every two years, and also asks to pay 14% hotel tax. And the licensed users are allowed to rent their homes not more than 90 days in a year.

Many countries, cities and municipalities have restrictions to the short-term rentals legally. The restrictions vary from place to place, in some cities the restriction is more severe and they consider the short-term rentals as illegal factor.

In New York City the residential property located in an apartment or a kind of the multiple dwelling unit, should be used for the permanent residential purposes, that is, the property must be occupied by a single person or by the family for more than 30 days continuously, having the paying guests for less than 30 days is considered as illegal, though the property may be the licensed Airbnb or other similar kind of business.

It is not illegal in New York City to rent a room, unless the owner has the home or apartment at the same time when the room is rented. All the parts of the dwelling should be completely available to the paying guest.

In New York, violations of these laws will end up in paying fines of $1000 to $5000. Once a resident of New York rented his east village apartment to a visitor from Russia for three nights stay and he earned $300 form it, latter he was fined $2400.

New Orleans has a similar type of restrictions to the short-term rentals use. According to their local rules, the owners who rent their property for less than 60 days in the French Quarter will be prohibited. And the owners who rent their property for less than 30 days in other parts of the city will also be prohibited.

Other cities make use of their zoning laws to limit the short-term rentals. In San Luis Obispo County in California, the short-term rentals should not be located within the 200 feet of another similar short-term rental on the same block. Whereas, the other cities impose the occupancy limits. In Isle of Palms which is in South Carolina, there is a limit of two per bed and additionally two people can join them.

Whereas, in some cities and municipalities the rules will be liberal, some permit the short-term rentals to stay until the owner is registered with the city or they obtains a license or permit and they pay all the taxes and fees. This is the case happened in Palm desert, which is located in California, in 2012, it adopted the rules, for allowing the short-term rentals for 27 days provided they should obtain the annual permit and they should collect a 9% transient occupancy tax and it should be paid to the city. San Francisco in 2015 framed the rules for permitting the short-term rentals up to 90 days per year, for the owners who live in their property for more than 275 days per year.

Due to lack of manpower, municipalities and other cities do not spend much of the time on this issue. Mostly, they are unaware of the short-term rentals, which are going on. Mostly they take action only when the neighbors complain about the short-term rentals.

Whether Vancouver needs home sharing laws?

Vancouver already has laws to address the home sharing, for making the majority of the homes rented illegal. Locations which are rented for less than 30 days will be permitted if they are hotels or Airbnb, the owners should have the valid hotel license and the 3% of the city hotel tax. For Airbnb, the owners should have the bed and breakfast license and the hosts should be present when the guests are there. Vancouver has issued 105 hotel licenses and 58 Airbnb licenses.

The city has hired a consulting firm, to investigate the issue, and to find whether it has an impact on the rental stocks. The city believes that they will get the result at the beginning of 2017.

Vancouver mayor plans to ban the Airbnb rentals who are not living in their homes, while they are listing their homes for rents. The mayor has also ordered to hold a business license.

He says that the city’s approach is aimed at the low vacation vacancy rate. He says that, housing is the important factor for homes; it is not about operating a business.

The rentals of less than 30 days who don’t have a hotel or bed and breakfast license are prohibited. According to the staff report, about 97% of the short-term rentals are illegal.

Mayor Robertson said that the short-term rentals should be permitted to stay in the principal residences so that the owners can spend their lives in the expensive city, and he tells the Airbnb users to get the business license and to post the unique license number in the advertisements.

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Anand Rajendran

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