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First, all Vancouver homeowners became landlords. Now they’re all turning into mini-hotel operators

July 30th, 2012 · No Comments

I’m a fan of vacation rentals. I’ve stayed in them all over the world, from Hornby Island and Portland to Bologna and Chicago. The good ones are the next best thing to home exchanges for getting into regular neighbourhoods. (There are some not great ones, for sure. I’ve had the odd less-than-stellar experience, which is part of the gamble that you take in this kind of renting.)

But I’ve also noticed that they create consternation in many cities, among residents, hotel operators, affordable-housing advocates and more because of their potential impact on all of the above.

I decided to look at Vancouver (where, yes, I’ve even stayed in a vacation rental here when I was having my floors re-done, which let me experiment with being a hip person with modernist furniture at the Jacobsen) to see what things are like here.

The lack of local concern was striking. Hotel operators are a lot more concerned about the impact of customers constantly bidding for the lowest price on the internet. Residents, even people who live on the same floor as vacation rentals, seem remarkably tolerant — perhaps a function of our transient, diverse, live-and-let-live city.

The only complaints I could gather were from bed-and-breakfast owners, who are suffering from other problems too. Did you know that the City of Vancouver technically restricts them from renting out more than two units in one property, even though they have to comply with a welter of city bylaws that cost them a fair chunk of money.

All of which is good, more or less, for local property renters, as the numbers seem to be growing all the time. (Just in the week that I was researching this story, the airbnb local listings went from1,243 to 1,258.) And for the vacation renters themselves, who continue to flock to them.

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