Last week, there were more than 90 short-term vacation rentals listed in the City of White Rock, yet the city has only issued 21 business licenses. (AirDNA.co image)

Bylaw amendments makes it easier to spot illegal AirBnBs in White Rock

Amendments to help tourists find hosts that are playing by the rules

White Rock council passed bylaw amendments Monday evening that are designed, in part, to make it easier for enforcement officers to spot illegal short-term rentals and, at the same time, assist vacationers in finding hosts who are playing by the rules.

The amendments, which were unanimously endorsed by council, require all licensed short-term rental owners to list their business licence number in their AirBnB advertisements.

The bylaw amendments also provide a description of short-term rental, and lists the requirements for hosts to obtain a business licence.

Among the requirements, short-term rentals must be operated in a registered secondary suite, be operated by an owner who resides at the property, be limited to two sleeping units and host no more than four adult guests at any given time; and the home must follow a number of fire-protection and Building Code standards.

The final reading came after a public hearing on the bylaw that evening.

RELATED: ‘Illegal hotels’ operating in City of White Rock: councillor

During the hearing, White Rock resident Christian Lane called for the city to fund more bylaw officers to proactively search for and fine residents who operate AirBnB-style rentals contrary to the city bylaws.

Lane told council he counted 141 active short-term rentals, 70 per cent of which are booked on any given day with an average daily rate of $117.

By contrast, the city has issued 21 licences for short-term rental.

Lane said more than a quarter of short-term rentals in White Rock are homes with three bedrooms or more.

“So, conservatively, if a short-term rental house with three-bedrooms is renting each room in their home for $117 per night at a 70 per cent occupancy rate, they stand to generate just over $7,300 per month, or $88,000 per year. In short, short-term rental hosts and property owners stand to earn anywhere from double to six times more revenue than a long-term and all without the legal obligations, responsibilities and protections afforded to long-term renters,” Lane said.

RELATED: Call issued for focus on unlicensed vacation rentals in White Rock

During the regular meeting, Coun. David Chesney said that illegal AirBnB bylaw enforcement on short-term rentals has, historically, been complaint-driven.

“Are we actually going to be hammering down and start putting these people out of business?” Chesney asked staff.

City planner Carl Isaak responded that the city does have a program where bylaw officers seek out and shut down illegal AirBnBs.

Although he voted in favour of the amendments, Coun. Scott Kristjanson suggested council needs to hear more about how city staff will look to shut down some of the active AirBnB listings in the city.

“It’s making it hard for people to afford (rent) and (to) purchase a home because it’s very economic for investors to do short-term (rental),” Kristjanson said.

Isaak told council that money for more bylaw officers is not in the current financial plan, “but it’s something we can monitor.”



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

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