NELSON (NEWS 1130) – As of Thursday, April 19, Airbnb hosts in Vancouver have to start to pay attention to new bylaws, meant to regulate the home-sharing short-term accommodation industry.
Only a couple of other municipalities in BC have done the same. Similar bylaws have been adopted in Tofino and Nelson.
Like Vancouver, Nelson is also struggling with a near-zero vacancy rate for rentals, so the city needed reassurances that Airbnb rentals were not reducing spots for long-term tenants.
People in Nelson cannot rent out secondary homes on Airbnb, which is also the case in Vancouver.
Mayor Deb Kozak says it’s too early to tell if the move is improving vacancies. The bylaw in Nelson was adopted in January, 2017.
“We are a year into it. We have put out a survey to our community. We have a survey online to ask how we are doing, and we’re asking for feedback.”
She feels hosts are complying with the need to take out business licences, which are tiered according to how long a host offers up a space, and what exactly is being rented out.
“It’s been a positive experience, and the majority of people in Nelson really value the community and they’re in compliance. So it’s worked well for us.”
She says people were told ahead of time the city had software to let them know who was renting out with a licence.
“We would be actively tracking who was renting short-term, and if they’re not in compliance, then we would be in touch with them. People have been really good. They come in and register their short-term rental.”
The number of Airbnb business licences issued in Nelson has been capped, but the mayor says they haven’t reached that number yet.
Kozak says the bylaws were crafted with input from stakeholders like hosts, hotel companies, and Airbnb itself.
She says Airbnb has cooperated in agreeing to require new hosts to have a business licence before listing their space.
Airbnb has the same agreement with the City of Vancouver. Current hosts in Vancouver, on the other hand, have until August 31 to get a licence.