Listing for a whole suite in Fairfield on AirBnB as of Friday morning. AirBnB

City to hire contractor to study short-term rentals in Victoria

Councillors approve in principle awarding contract to California company

The City of Victoria has given intent to award a bid to California company Host Compliance LLC to collect data and create a report on short-term rentals (STRs) in Victoria.

The bid closes today (Dec. 8) at 4 p.m. Company CEO Ulrick Binzer said the City doesn’t have data on the scale and scope of short-term rentals, and the report would provide the ability to evaluate scenarios, and understand implications of different regulations. A City representative indicated this information would be used to better estimate how many existing STRs may be eligible for business licences under the new rules, and help determine licensing fees.

Related: Draft short term rental bylaw considered in Victoria

According to its website, Host Compliance LLC provides monitoring for short-term rentals and enforcement solutions to local governments, including ensuring that STR renters and owners are complying with regulations, and helping increase tax collected from such properties. The company has gathered data on STRs in 85 Canadian cities, including Vancouver and Edmonton.

Binzer said while he doesn’t know much about Victoria’s particular situation, the issues presented by vacation rentals are nearly universal.

“A lot of cities in North America are struggling with how to balance peoples’ property rights with the impact it has on the neighbours, in terms of affordability … and quality of life and neighbourhood character implications,” he said. “In Victoria, its probably even more pronounced because it’s a popular tourist destination, especially in the summer.

“What we try to do is help the City get the data so they have the best possible information so they can make decisions on how to deal with this.”

Related: Victoria short-term rental operators start GoFundMe campaign for legal costs

Blake MacKenzie, who runs the Greater Victoria Short Term Rental Alliance and is an advocate for operators and owners, is glad the City is taking this step to better understand the STR market, but hopes they’ll look at the results with an open mind.

“If it’s going to create data that helps the City reconsider some of the decisions, or maybe liberalize their rules a bit, they’ll find in their research that a lot of the aspects they had concerns about may not be valid,” he said.

“As long as it’s not tied to a biased entity to promote an anti-STR agenda, we welcome anybody coming in to provide important data that might help people make better decisions.”

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