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Only 17% of Richmond short-term rentals appear to be licensed

The City of Richmond issued more than 400 short-term rental fines as of August.
The province introduced new legislation to crack down on short-term rentals and bring more back as long-term rental stock. Pawel Kacperek/iStock/Getty Images Plus

There appears to be almost six times more short-term rental listings in Richmond than there are such licensed businesses.

A recent report published by McGill University shows there were 920 active short-term rentals in Richmond in June, but the city currently has 159 business licences for boarding and lodging and bed-and-breakfasts, the licences needed in Richmond for short-term rentals. This is a mere 17 per cent of active listings.

In response to several municipalities asking for more regulation of Airbnb, Vrbo and other short-term rental services, the province introduced some measures on Monday to rein in short-term rentals that they say are pulling long-term rental homes off the market.

The McGill University study found there were about 28,500 short-term rentals in B.C., a year-over-year increase of almost 18 per cent.

Furthermore, the study notes, short-term rentals are “dominated by commercial operators,” with the top 10 per cent earning almost half of all income, and the top one per cent earning more than 20 per cent.

The study showed short-term rentals increased by about 21 per cent in Richmond in the past year, and operators pulled in $2.8 million in revenue in June alone.

The new provincial legislation, in an attempt to return more rental stock to the long-term market, will require operators to only offer short-term rentals in their principal residence, including a secondary suite or laneway home. This will go into effect next May.

The province is also increasing maximum fines municipalities can impose on operators breaking the rules from $1,000 to $3,000 per day per STR infraction.

Short-term rental operators will also be required to share data with the province so local governments can enforce their bylaws and their taxes can be audited provincially and federally.

Last week, council’s community safety meeting asked staff to look into increasing the cost of a short-term rental business licences.

At the meeting, Coun. Andy Hobbs said looking into short-term rentals should be “broad enough” that it addresses the issue from different angles.

“There’s such a huge financial incentive to break our existing bylaws that we should have (the referral) broad enough that we can look at other things we can do as well as the fee,” he told the committee.

As of August, the city had issued about 450 bylaw tickets related to short-term rentals so far this year, compared to only eight tickets the same time last year. This follows the hiring of more staff to crack down on those violating boarding and lodging bylaws.

The city’s director of bylaws, Mark Corrado, noted many tickets are bundled so that one operator might receive several at a time.

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