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AirBnB, VRBO, vacation and executive rental news and issues in Victoria


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#1321 Bob Fugger

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 05:45 PM

I am in receipt today of a menacing letter from the City of Victoria Bylaw & Licensing Services Department accusing me of running a short term vacation rental.  This is the second such letter I've received.  After the first, I promptly contacted them and informed them that while I am indeed advertising on vacation rental sites, that my ads explicitly state that bookings of less than 30 days will not be considered.  They were confused and asked if they could confer and call back.  They called back and informed me that one of the sites (ironically a more obscure one), you could still inquire to book for a shorter time period.

 

Rather than go into the fact that they are on shaky ground by trying to regulate advertising, versus actual enforcement of an infraction (i.e., catching someone red-handed renting short term), I acquiesced and changed the minimum booking dates.  I've not found this to be too much of a hinderance, as I'm just finishing up a one month booking, about to host another and then I've booked the unit out to a couple from April to August.

 

Fast forward to today: "Please advised that if you are advertising your rental unit but have disabled your bookings, you are still considered to be advertising, which may result in enforcement."

 

Except that in the Short Term Rental Regulation Bylaw, a short term rental means, "the renting of a dwelling, or any part of it, for a period of less than 30 days and includes vacation rentals."  The bylaw also does not provide a further definition for what constitutes "vacation rentals."

 

Therefore, the bylaw does not apply because I don't meet the definition.  They are completely ultra vires their authority by trying to suggest that I could be subject to enforcement action merely by advertising something that is not a short term rental on those websites.  Indeed, they're coming perilously close to infringing my Charter rights under s.2.

 

I will report back tomorrow after I've spoken to these misguided fools.


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#1322 Mike K.

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 06:06 PM

Very good.

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#1323 Bob Fugger

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 03:36 PM

It turns out that one of my booking sites was set to a five day minimum.  I tried changing it while I had the Bylaw & Licensing Services clerk on the phone, but there was an error in the app.  So at least I could genuinely demonstrate that I was trying to change it!  When I asked her about their authority to regulate furnished rentals that were rented for 30 days and longer, she agreed that they had no authority to do so.  She confirmed that the sticking point was the ability to request a booking of less than 30 days.

 

So here's the thing: I didn't want to get into it, because I really don't need to until August, when this may become an issue again.  But I reviewed the bylaw and other than requiring a business number to be stated, they have no authority to regulate advertising.  Furthermore, the fact that someone could request a booking for 30 days doesn't make my furnished rental a short term rental.  Let's review the definition: “short-term rental” means the renting of a dwelling, or any part of it, for a period of less than 30 days and includes vacation rentals.  So it doesn't speak to the advertising or intent to rent; rather, it refers to the action (verb) of renting.

 

I know what they're trying to do, here: they're working with whatever tools they can to enforce the bylaw and hard-ons like me who questions stuff represent a sliver of the minority.  Most people will acquiesce and do as they're told.  But it sticks in my craw.  What they're doing is akin to a cop pulling me over because my car could do 220 km/h, even if there is no evidence that I was doing anything illegal.  The City lacks the authority to base enforcement based on intention.  At least it puts them in good company with the Sovietophiles on Council.


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#1324 Mike K.

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 03:43 PM

🚔Prostitution ring, thefts elicit warning from VicPD to AirBnB hosts🚔

Victoria BC – Investigators want to warn the public after two recent investigations involving Airbnb rentals.

In the first investigation, a suspect rented a space through a rental site and allegedly trashed the suite and stole thousands of dollars’ worth of furnishings. Our investigation into this file is ongoing.

In the second ongoing investigation, a prostitution ring which exploits young women has been discovered to be renting short-term space through Airbnb. Major Crime investigators have been working with several agencies in an effort to identify the people involved. Investigators have noted several key similarities in these types of investigations:

- The owner does not meet the renter to check them into the suite in the first instance;
- Renters’ identifications are not verified through government ID or other verification systems in place through Airbnb;
- The Airbnb app had been set to “Instant Booking”. This allows renters to book the suite at any time without verification from the owner. It is recommended to turn this feature off;
- The owner has set the rental to be available immediately;
- The owner has set the rental to be available short-term, without a minimum stay or with a very short minimum stay; and
- In some cases, the owner is using a third-party service to rent their space on their behalf.

Investigators want people who rent out their space to utilize a few simple steps to protect these young women from being exploited:

- Do not rent your Airbnb without meeting all renters at check-in;
- Verify your renters through government ID or other verification systems in place through Airbnb;
- Do not set your rental to be available immediately;
- Consider setting a minimum stay at your property;
- If you are using a third-party service to rent your space on your behalf, talk with them to ensure that they are verifying renters and not opening you and your property up to risk;
- Do not rent without taking payment in advance or via systems in place like those available through Airbnb or other, similar vendors; and
- Read renters’ reviews and ensure they have a positive history of renting from other hosts.

Both of these files are still under investigation. Anybody with information is asked to call us at 250-995-7654. Information can also be anonymously provided through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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#1325 Jackerbie

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 03:46 PM

^^ This is exactly what a vocal segment of the public does not understand. It's a near constant refrain that anybody with an ad should be ticketed. See, for instance, this letter to the editor. And the official response from the City of Richmond?

 

Townsend noted that, the advertisement on Booking.com alone does not constitute an offence, and the city asks residents to help them gather more evidence, “particularly if they have information about more than two people staying at this location.”

 

via https://www.richmond...city-1.23640341


Edited by Jackerbie, 28 February 2019 - 03:48 PM.


#1326 Mike K.

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 12:49 PM

A 12% drop in listings has been observed by the CoV’s consultants between December and now. Nowhere does it say, however, whether the drop were full-home our suite rentals (which can be argued may remove inventory from the rental market) or in-home rentals like rooms or portions of a full-time residence with shared quarters. At the end the City attributes a rise in the rental vacancy rate to 1.1% from 0.8% to new rental inventory, but not even partially to the clamp down on AirBnB suites.

What we do see is that licensed full-time and shared AirBnB’s are a nearly even split. What this also means is the rhetoric that “all” AirBnB’s were removing rental inventory from the market appears false.

From the CoV:

Short-Term Rental Regulations Result in Fewer Listings
June 26, 2019

The City of Victoria has seen a decrease of Airbnb and VRBO listings after the first six months of enforcement of its new short-term rental regulations, part of a suite of actions to increase housing options and affordability.

As of May 2019, the City of Victoria had 1268 active listings, compared to 1440 listings when enforcement efforts began in December 2018. An increasing number of compliant operators have obtained a business licence, while others have removed their short-term listing.

Regulations allow up to two bedrooms in a shared home to be rented short-term, and on occasion the whole home may be rented during temporary absence. A full list of regulations is available at www.Victoria.ca/STR.

Other recent initiatives to improve access to long-term rental housing and support for renters, and increase housing affordability include:

creating a Renters’ Advisory Committee to provide advice to Council on rental housing and tenant-related matters

committing $1.8 million to build 138 new affordable rental homes

increasing funding for the City’s Housing Reserve Fund to $1 million from $250,000 for 2019

creating a Tenant Assistance Policy to provide better support for renters who are required to move when their building is rezoned for redevelopment

Victoria City Council passed short-term rental regulations in April 2018, with the full suite of enforcement taking effect in December 2018. If you suspect someone is operating a short-term rental without a licence, it can be reported to the City’s Bylaw Services.

Quick Facts:

As of May 2019, the City of Victoria had 1268 active short-term rental listings, compared to 1440 listings in December 2018. That’s a decrease of 172 listings.

Currently 675 short-term rentals are licenced in the City of Victoria, compared to 528 licenced short-term rentals in 2018.
Of the 675 licenced short-term rentals, 322 are business licences for a principal residence short-term rental (meaning the operator lives in the home) and 353 are for units where the owner does not live in the unit as their principal residence (legally non-conforming, i.e. grandfathered).

The City of Victoria has seen a slight improvement in the rental vacancy rate from 0.8% in 2017 to 1.1% in 2018, as a result of the construction of new rental buildings, with 1,269 new rental units built between 2014 and 2018.

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#1327 sebberry

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 01:39 PM

So what's the short term rental restrictions done for long-term availability?  


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#1328 spanky123

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 01:47 PM

^^ Note that the City is not comparing the same periods. Why not compare June to June. Is it because many places are booked in June and thus don't show up as listings?


Edited by spanky123, 26 June 2019 - 02:14 PM.


#1329 Mike K.

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 02:11 PM

No increase in rental housing, no decrease in rental rates, and half of the licensed inventory would never qualify as rental housing.

On the surface this appears to be yet another program that was touted as an important component of fixing the housing situation but its effects are difficult to quantify. It’s also been quite a while since the regime was implemented (1.5 years, has it not?). Fines only began this year.

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#1330 spanky123

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 02:14 PM

No increase in rental housing, no decrease in rental rates, and half of the licensed inventory would never qualify as rental housing.

On the surface this appears to be yet another program that was touted as an important component of fixing the housing situation but its effects are difficult to quantify. It’s also been quite a while since the regime was implemented (1.5 years, has it not?). Fines only began this year.

 

And we are paying $25K a year to a SF company to track everything.



#1331 Mike K.

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 02:24 PM

Indeed we are. It’s a very easy $25k for this organization.

Meanwhile the buildings which contain grandfathered AirBnB rentals have skyrocketed in value due to political meddling, which has only worsened the affordability angle as all condos are now valued higher as a result of this consequence.

And someone might ask, how can that be? If a unit in an AirBnB-permitted building has a market value of $495,000, but it should really be valued at around $415,000, the supply of comparable non-AirBnB-able units will sell for more, because what’s the alternative? That’s right. $495,000. So will you buy the $415,000 unit for $495,000 or its non-AirBnB variant at $445,000?
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#1332 Promontory Kingpin

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 05:12 PM

Jack up the rental prices. Have you seen rates in downtown SF, Seattle, and other cities?!? We have a lot of catching up to do folks.

Our city is very affordable in comparison to many cities around the world. If people want to afford more things then get off their asses to build up the skills needed to get a half decent job. That’s what I’ve done, and any able bodied Canadian with even half a brain is able to do so as well. You only have one life, so make the most of it :)
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#1333 Rob Randall

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 07:10 AM

In-depth Spanish study saying airbnb increases rent prices 

 

.pdf

 

ABSTRACT: In this paper, we assess the impact of the arrival and expansion of Airbnb on
housing rents and prices in the city of Barcelona. Examining highly detailed data on rents
and both transaction and posted prices, we use several econometric approaches that exploit
the exact timing and geography of Airbnb activity in the city. These include

i) panel fixed effects models with neighborhood-specific time trends,

ii) an instrumental variable shiftshare approach in which tourist amenities predict where Airbnb listings will locate and

Google searches predict when listings appear, and

iii) event-study designs.

 

For the average
neighborhood in terms of Airbnb activity, our preferred results imply that rents have
increased by 1.9%, while transaction (posted) prices have increased by 5.3% (3.7%). The
estimated impact in neighborhoods with high Airbnb activity is substantial. For
neighborhoods in the top decile of Airbnb activity distribution, rents are estimated to have
increased by 7%, while increases in transaction (posted) prices are estimated at 19% (14%).


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#1334 m3m

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 08:45 AM

The density of airbnb units in Barcelona is much much higher than in Victoria.  I'd be surprised if it had a similar effect across victoria. 



#1335 Mike K.

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 08:48 AM

Councillor Loveday’s Jan 11 tweet: Another important action for housing in the 2020 budget: hiring two new bylaw officers so we can properly enforce our Short Term Vacation Rental regulations and return illegal STVRs to their proper use as homes for people.

It was not that long ago that Mayor Helps resided in a home that hosted two illegal full-suite AirBnB’s operated by a woman who had donated substantial amounts of services-in-kind to Helps’ first council and mayoral campaigns. The mayor continues to live in this home but the vacation units are no longer listed. Are they available as rental apartments now? That’s what councillor Loveday is saying is the case when the City shuts down illegal AirBnB units, that they become regular rentals, but I don’t think it’s quite that simple.

If we recall, councillor Loveday had pushed for the implementation of the AirBnB ban, and in particular at Dockside Green in Vic West. After the ban’s implementation City-wide in 2018, there has been no increase in affordability rates and rental rates have continued to climb while the vacancy rate has notched up slightly due to thousands of purpose built units. What has also happened is condo units in buildings where AirBnBs are grandfathered have appreciated in value faster than comparable units, and retain their value to a higher degree. The exact opposite has been achieved by the measure if housing affordability is the goal.

Meanwhile tourism numbers were down in 2019.

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#1336 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 09:06 AM

it's hard to measure all of that though as you can't explore any one factor in isolation though.



#1337 Mike K.

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 09:18 AM

It’s more of a case of logic, though, isn’t it?

Returning 50 rentals to the rental market will not influence the market. Moving 300 basement suites off the vacation rental exchange will not yield a 100% conversion to full-time rentals.

The numbers are so small that inferences can be made relatively quickly and easily.

In this case, Loveday is pushing for two $100,000 per annum bylaw officer positions to monitor a handful of AirBnB suites. It’s not a logical investment for the benefit of the taxpayer.

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#1338 spanky123

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 05:32 PM

A year ago the City hired a SF firm to monitor and track compliance with short term rentals rules and touted this as a huge success. Now they are saying that we need to hire 2 people to enforce the rules?

 

https://www.vicnews....ntal-operators/



#1339 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 05:44 PM

do they think they need these guys on the ground to deal with stragglers?



#1340 DavidL

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 09:30 PM

The funding for the new positions comes from the gigantic increase in business licence fees for legal STRs, from $100-$150/yr to $1500/yr, plus a bunch of hoops to jump through, including, uniquely among Victoria business licence holders, the requirement to reapply from scratch every year.  You may find it interesting to know that a licenced vacation rental pays more for their business licence for a single unit than most hotels in Victoria pay for their entire building.

 

The thing is, Victoria could have hired bylaw officers 5 years ago, or at any time for that matter, to enforce the existing zoning bylaws concerning STRs as they have always been legal in a very few specific zones, without having to go through all they went through to vilify what is an important aspect of both our tourist and non-tourist accommodation sector.  Longer term medical care, specialized care that has to be traveled for, family gatherings in general, respite care etc etc, in addition to the run of the mill tourist.  I know of one provider that supported the arts communities with accommodation for visiting artists and performers and was able to do so at very low rates as they also had additional units that would subsidize that activity.  

 

In terms of pushing units back into the regular rental pool, yes, it has happened with maybe a few.  But far more of them just hopped over into the 30 day or more furnished rental market which continues to be very strong in Victoria.  I know of quite a few that have simply been taken off completely as the owners have no interest in getting into regular rentals, particularly with the abolition of fixed term tenancies.


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