Citing concerns about the impact of short-term home rentals on Vancouver’s housing market, city council has ratcheted up the business licence fee for operators by more than nine times the current rate.
“In the past few months, I’ve been very deeply concerned about illegal short-term rentals throughout the city,” said ABC Coun. Lenny Zhou, the councillor who proposed the new higher fee. “I strongly believe that raising fees must go hand-in-hand with stronger enforcement, otherwise we risk encouraging more unregulated operators”
Zhou proposed a $1,000 annual fee, up from the current $109, which he estimated could generate an additional $2.6 million in revenue for the city every year, which could go toward increased enforcement, auditing and education.
“We have to be bold. We are in a housing crisis,” Zhou said.
At the meeting Wednesday, city council was considering increases to several kinds of licence fees, including businesses, animals and vehicles-for-hire. While city staff had recommended six per cent increases for most kinds of licences, in order to reflect increased city costs, they proposed significantly larger increases for certain types, including a 100 per cent increase for general contractors (from $171 to $340 per year) and trade contractors (from $207 to $340).
One of the largest increases proposed in the city staff report was quadrupling short-term rentals operated through platforms like Airbnb from $109 a year to $450, which staff said would bring revenue from short-term rental licences in line with costs for licensing and enforcement of this sector.
But on the floor of council, Zhou proposed amending this section of the report to increase the annual short-term rental, or STR, licence fee to $1,000.