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Vancouver opens 2,000 cases, takes action against 800 short-term rentals

VANCOUVER — The City of Vancouver says it’s opened more than 2,000 case files and taken enforcement action against 820 suspected unauthorized short-term rentals since new rules came into effect requiring operators to have a business licence.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart says in a news release that he’s encouraged by the early results of enforcement since the program came into effect on Sept. 1, 2018.

He says the program aims to making more long-term rental units available in Vancouver’s tight housing market. 

The city says a commercial operator with 35 short-term rental listings at two properties was fined $20,000 for one property and a trial date is set for the second one.

It says two other operators have pled guilty to violations and each was fined $2,500 in provincial court.

As of March 6, the city says there were 4,720 active short-term rental listings in Vancouver, 2,628 business licences issued and 2,014 case files opened against suspected unauthorized operators.

Pursuing legal action against suspected offenders requires extensive investigation to gather evidence that can be used in court, the city says.

“In developing these new regulations the city solicited feedback from internal and external sources, such as other cities, on how to build and improve our licensing and enforcement systems,” says chief licence inspector Kathryn Holm in a statement.

“We continue to develop and refine our approach to identify and enforce against operators who knowingly evade our bylaws. We thank the members of the public who continue to provide us with information about suspected illegal operators via our dedicated reporting channels.”

The rules mean operators must have a business licence, which costs $49 annually, and the licence number must be included in their listings. Operators can only advertise their main residence and must have permission from their landlord or condo board to list a property, or they could face fines of up to $1,000 a day.

The city says nearly 70 per cent of operators who held a 2018 business licence have already renewed for 2019.

Toronto introduced regulations to restrict short-term rentals but an appeal of the rules has been delayed until August so they are not in effect.

The Canadian Press

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