Short-term rentals like Airbnbs are becoming a concern in Delta.
It’s been a hot button issue in Vancouver where long-term renters are getting squeezed, prompting that city to take action, but now some in Delta are calling for similar measures.
Ladner homeowner Martha Cheney said a house on her street was sold after spending some time on the market. After appearing to be renovated, a steady stream of tenants began to come and go from the home, which is when she learned it was an Airbnb.
Cheney, who wrote to the new Delta council about her concerns, said one problem is the house is not available for locals to rent long-term, while another is the stream of transient people in the neighbourhood.
“There’s not much rental housing here and the amount of people doing this is clearly increasing,” she said.
Last week, the Optimist looked up on Airbnb what would be available in the city for the first two weeks of December. Seventeen locations came up in Tsawwassen, ranging from $65 per night for a “master suite of a house” to $854 per night for “a stunning executive home.”
Nine locations were available in Ladner, including top or bottom floors of homes, a room in a townhouse and a “unique character” house on a farm property.
North Delta had 14 listings for that period.
The Optimist reached out to one host called “Olga” who had multiple listings to ask about the short-term rental business, but she did not want to talk to the media.
Noting short-term rentals could also have an impact on local hotels, civic bylaws manager Hugh Davies said homeowners can have up to two boarders without requiring a licence, while anyone wanting to rent out a suite has to get a city business licence and secondary suite occupancy permit.
However, there currently isn’t a regulation in the zoning bylaw prohibiting those units from being rented short-term.
“It does take away from the housing market when somebody does want to rent for the short-term, a three-day or two-day or one-day, because those are generally residents who are not living here. They’re usually transient or coming to visit. We are going to look at it into the new year with the new council. We’ll deal with it with business licensing and zoning,” he said.
“It hasn’t really hit here yet that bad. They go on and off the market, so they’re not all on at the same time. At any given moment you may have twice as many the next day as you do today. We generally deal with them on a complaint basis or if we find a suite that’s not licensed.”
Davies said short-term rentals have become a big concern elsewhere, including California, where many communities have started to ban them.
Clair Oates, operator of Clair’s Bed & Breakfast in Ladner Village, submitted a letter to Mayor George Harvie and council urging action, saying her bookings have sharply declined due to Airbnb and VRBO rentals that aren’t even following their own regulations.
Noting she abides by all civic rules and pays for a business licence and insurance, Oates said issues which are frustrating residents include noise and parking. She noted a quick count found 60 short-term rentals in the Delta area.
Harvie told theOptimist it wasn’t an issue people raised with him during the recent election campaign, but he’ll certainly read the correspondence and wants to hear the concerns. He also said he looks forward the staff report as the new council moves forward.
Coun. Lois Jackson said something needs to be done now so that even more property owners don’t decide to cash in on the short-term rental business, which are essentially hotels in residential zones.
“I don’t think it’s right. Of course, all those who use the Airbnbs think it’s fabulous because it’s cheaper than a hotel. It is taking advantage and helping create a situation where there is now no rentals for people like students or first-time renters,” said the former mayor.