There are 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)

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

Anthony Manning concerned some homeowners are operating unlicensed B&B-style rentals

Unlicensed vacation rentals in the City of White Rock is an issue that doesn’t seem to be going away, but of particular concern to at least one city councillor are homes that seemingly operate as illegal bed-and-breakfasts.

“You’re not talking short-term rental here, you’re talking an illegal hotel,” Coun. Anthony Manning told Peace Arch News Tuesday. “Some of them are advertising five, six rooms available.”

Prior to meeting with PAN, Manning said he counted 92 vacation rentals listed in the city, which is similar to what PAN counted last April.

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

SEE ALSO: B.C. rental crisis goes far beyond impact of short-term rentals, say experts

White Rock resident Christian Lane, who had an unsuccessful bid for council last civic election, has raised the issue of unlicensed AirBnB’s multiple times to PAN and on social media.

On Twitter earlier this month, Lane highlighted an example of an AirBnB listing that contradicts city bylaw.

“Say hello to Anne,” Lane tweeted, while linking to an AirBnB listing. “Anne owns a home in White Rock. Anne also has 4 AirBnB listings for her home. Anne doesn’t actually live in her home. Anne is in violation of (White Rock) bylaws. Don’t be like Anne.”

Aside from being lost revenue for the city, unlicensed rentals remove potential suites or homes from the city’s already stressed rental market. Unlicensed properties also have no city oversight into safety features such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers or an adequate number of exits in case of an emergency, Manning said.

Bylaw enforcement of unlicensed vacation rentals has proved to be a challenge.

“Trying to keep on top of it is like a game of whack-a-mole,” Manning said, adding that when the city shuts down one AirBnB, another seems to become available.

He said bylaw enforcement is complaint driven, however officers search vacation rental websites for unlicensed rentals. Manning noted that bylaw does this job on top of other responsibilities.

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

“These are the same folks that are down on the promenade checking on dog licences and people picking up after their dogs. They’re also going to construction sites and making sure the permitting processes are being followed.”

Fines for unlicensed short-term rentals range from $500 for first offence to $2,000 for third offence.

Although Manning said he doesn’t support an outright ban of AirBnB in the city, he said “it’s certainly tempting” to consider it.

Noting that White Rock is a tourist-based community with only one hotel, Manning expressed concern that banning vacation-rentals from operating in the city would just drive the market further underground.

“For those who follow the rules, it’s an extra income stream for them. If they’re following the bylaw, they’re licensed, they have all the safety guidelines being follow – why should we be depriving someone of that income stream, because they probably need it.”

He pointed to efforts in Barcelona, which has the resources to go after AirBnB. Last year, Barcelona told the city to remove 2,577 listings it found to be operating without a licence. If AirBnB decided to not comply, the city threatened to take the company to court.

During the 2018 Civic campaign, Manning said there were a surprising number of homes throughout the city that appeared to be vacant.

According to data from Statistics Canada, there were 851 vacant homes in the City of White Rock in 2016. The total number of dwellings was 10,856.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Outdoor AED unit in Surrey among the first in B.C.

SaveStation cabinet is alarmed and monitored – and hasn’t been used yet

Trade sends Surrey NHLer Brenden Dillon to Washington

‘We felt it was important for us to add a player of his caliber to our defensive group,’ says Caps GM

Construction begins on Highway 91/17 improvements in Delta

Project includes new interchanges at Highway 17/Highway 91 Connector and at River Road/Highway 17

Suspect in Surrey forcible confinement arrested in Toronto

Constable Richard Wright, of the Surrey RCMP, said William Daniels-Sey was arrested on Feb. 16

Despite evacuation, coronavirus-quarantined White Rock couple still two weeks from home

Government chartered plane to help cruising Canadians return from Japan

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Most Read