Vancouver city councilors agree that Airbnbs and other short-term home rentals should be allowed. But they also agree they should be regulated, and they’re looking into the possibility of requiring owners to live on-site.
The city council could vote on an updated short-term rentals ordinance as soon as this fall. But its particulars won’t be decided until the city planning commission reviews some options and presents the best of them to the council.
Possible regulations include requiring a business license and a city permit to operate the rental, allowing inspections for safety and code compliance, charging a lodging tax and requiring an owner to live on-site, according to the council’s discussions Monday evening.
Jason Nortz, development review division manager, said that the permitting process would allow the city to identify “party houses” and revoke their permits.
Part of the city planning commission’s work will be to figure out a way to enforce the code, Nortz said.
Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle led the interest in having the owner live on-site. She talked about the need to ease the city’s housing crisis; apartments and homes are increasingly being rented to visitors while the residents of Vancouver struggle to find homes.
Over the past year, the city conducted a survey of 783 community members; 82 percent of respondents were homeowners and 9.6 percent were renters. Results showed that 56 percent said they want to see the city allow short-term rentals with regulations, 24 percent said they want to see the city allow them with no regulations, and 19 percent said they wanted a ban on all short-term rentals.
The city also conducted a survey of 85 short-term rental hosts. Eighty percent said they operated only one rental home. About 31 percent said they rent one or more rooms in their home, 19 percent said they rent their entire home and 42 percent said they rent an entire secondary residence.
The current city code was written decades ago for bed-and-breakfast inns, before companies such as Airbnb and Vrbo popularized short-term rentals.
Today, almost all those short-term rentals are not following the city code for various reasons. There are between 250 and 379 short-term rentals at any given moment in Vancouver, depending on the month, with seasonal adjustments. The number has grown by 116 percent since 2016, and the median nightly rate is $118.
At the beginning of the year, the city sent two letters asking the operators of short-term rentals to give input on how the city should move forward.
A recording of the council meeting is available at www.cvtv.org/.