While Airbnb listings are down, short term rental business licences are up in the City of Victoria. (Screenshot/ Airbnb)

City sees over $800,000 in funds after first six months of Airbnb regulations

Business licence fees and taxes bolster funds for city, tourism industry

While the City of Victoria is cracking down on illegally-operating short term rental units, it’s also reaping the rewards of the legal end of the owner-run accommodation boom.

In the first six months of mandated operations the City has collected $529,000 in business license fees from interested owners.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2018 owners of homes interested in running short term rental operations were required by the City of Victoria to apply for a business licence. Two different options are available: a licence where the home is the person’s principle residence (in other words, that they live in the home) the fee is $150. If the site is not the principle residence the business licence fee is $1,500.

READ MORE: City of Victoria to start charging illegal short-term rental operators

Since 2018 the number of business licences has jumped form 528 licenses to 675 licences, granting the city the more than $500,000 in revenue.

These funds will go into general revenue and be used to pay for administrative, enforcement and legal costs associated with the short term rental program.

Contrary to an increase in business licenses, the number of postings has actually dipped; there were 1,440 online listings in December 2018, when disciplinary actions began and as of May 2019 there were 1,268 active listings, according to Host Compliance, a third party monitoring agency hired by the city.

The City has also engaged in disciplinary actions against illegally operating businesses in the form of fines, though it could not confirm the exact amount of tickets issued. Fees for running an illegally operating business sit at $500, though this can be applied daily until the operation is shut down.

Destination Greater Victoria also gets a portion in the form of Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT). So far it’s received over $240,000 out of the $350,000 reported by Airbnb.

ALSO READ: B.C. cities want mandated business licences for short-term rentals

As part of the provincial contract on the tax, Destination Greater Victoria can use the funds for either marketing purposes or for affordable housing options.

“Our intention is to work with the City of Victoria and the hotel associations to come up with an affordable housing plane focused on the work force,” said Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria. “We’re trying to make something that works for the hospitality industry.”

Destination Greater Victoria is working with hotel partners and Destination BC to bring about plans for this housing option.

Nursey added that so far numbers seem to be levelling out between Airbnb and and hotel occupancy, but that further legislation still needs to ironed out to make it an even playing field.

“These new regulations helped contain things, but the commercial Airbnb is still not paying commercial property tax,” Nursey said. “We’re also keeping an eye on Airbnb and how it looks in regards to safety, insurance and liability.”

Nursey said that the biggest problems with Airbnb remain in large developments full of rented-out units, such as the Janion building at the end of Pandora Avenue.

“No one has concerns about someone sharing a spare bedroom,” he said “But some investors have 40-60 units.”

Provincially, Airbnb remitted $14 million in PST and $4 million in Municipal and Regional District Tax in the first six months.

Other short term rental operators such as VRBO have yet to reach any form of official agreement.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

City of Victoriashort term rentals

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

Just Posted

Victoria to see extra ships after cruise company cancels Asia tour in wake of COVID-19

Coronovirus fears cause Celebrity Cruises to head west early

Sooke school superintendent says student safety a paramount concern

“We always want to make sure our students and staff feel safe,”… Continue reading

Roll of EI recipients in Greater Victoria stagnates

Statistics Canada says 2,140 people received EI benefits in December 2019, just as in November

Don’t chase away armed suspects: West Shore RCMP

Police say teen broke into garage on Jenkins Avenue around 2 a.m.

Victoria developer reveals proposed next phase of Dockside Green

Bosa Development is proposing three towers, ranging from 13 to 16 storeys

Juno-nominated teen singer from Vancouver Island to appear on ‘American Idol’

Lauren Spencer-Smith up for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year for ‘Unplugged, Vol. 1’

Okanagan animal sanctuary seeks to fit frostbitten baby goat with prosthetic leg

Fundraiser started to help Zuri, newest resident of Twin Hearts Animal Sanctuary

UPDATE: Two killed in fiery collision on Highway 1 near Revelstoke

The Trans Canada Highway was closed for four hours

Father, two children killed after car goes over embankment on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

Comox Valley cat rescue organization hit by camera theft

“Someone is taking from an organization trying to help cats who are surviving in the wild.”

Trout ‘doing quite well’ at Kootenay hatchery after otters, who ate 150 fish, relocated

River otters had been pillaging a moat outside the facility for months, gobbling up about 150 trout

Most Read