We won! The City of Vancouver has been ordered to disclose the Airbnb licence database. This is a major victory for the residents of Vancouver adversely impacted by Airbnb operations in the city.
The City of Vancouver publishes business licences data for all businesses operating in Vancouver. But until now, the City of Vancouver has afforded preferential treatment to Airbnb business operators by hiding their licence information from the database.
When I submitted a freedom of information request to the City of Vancouver for that data in 2019, the City of Vancouver withheld the information citing privacy and security reasons.
I then submitted a complaint to the Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia. The initial investigator found that the City of Vancouver was not entitled to withhold the information under the grounds they have stated, but the City refused to budge.
The matter ended up going to a full inquiry. Just before Christmas last year, the OIPCBC adjudicator ruled in my favour, and ordered the City of Vancouver to disclose the information to me (Order F21-65).
Airbnb and the City of Vancouver deployed an army of lawyers to argue their case during the inquiry. I represented myself despite having no formal legal education. Airbnb is a billion dollar company. I live in a basement.
What I had, and Airbnb will never have, is the support of Vancouver’s tireless housing activists, who helped me argue my case during the inquiry. I want to thank every one of them who helped craft a winning argument.
We discovered through freedom of information requests that Airbnb had put us housing advocates under mass surveillance and supplied dossiers about us to the City of Vancouver. Instead of demanding that Airbnb cease and desist in their unethical and potentially illegal activities, the City of Vancouver used that data to blacklist us.
We persevered and persisted because we believe it’s repugnant that the City of Vancouver would side with a parasitic billion dollar company decimating the rental stock while bringing crime to our neighbourhoods.
We’re in the midst of a crushing housing crisis. Thousands are homeless on the street, while tens of thousands live in their vehicles or couchsurf with their friends. One in five families spend more than half their paycheque on rent. The Vancouver City Council needs to ban Airbnb completely in the city. The City of Vancouver should make cracking down on Airbnb a priority.
19 thoughts on “City of Vancouver ordered to disclose Airbnb data”
I am a journalist writing about Airbnb. Can you send me proof of the “mass surveillance” and getting blacklisted?
Thanks so much for fighting for so many. Airbnb’s have help destroy so much of what is important to our communities. No housing means no community. ❤️
We need to keep emailing the city of vancouver daily..and don’t stop until they take action..and get to the bottom because why would they fight SO hard if they have nothing to hide ….somebody high up is profiting and that’s a crime…email them every single day….
The issue is not Air BNB. The issue is there government policies make it hard for landlords to evict horrible tenants And that rents go up below inflation and landlord costs go higher than inflation. When offered a chance to get fair market rent and the ability to get rid of bad people instead of the backlog of Rent Tribunal. Who can blame landlords for chosing to rent through Air BNB instead of the risk of taking a bad tenant.
AirBnB has allowed my family to own a home in the city. I grew up here and wouldn’t be able to afford to live in a house without the income from AirBnB. We bought a decrepit house, borrowed and mortgaged our souls to rebuild a house with a basement suite and a laneway house. We rent the laneway house long-term amd AirBnB the basement. Without ABnB we wouldn’t be able to afford our mortgage. We’ve already added to the rental stock with the laneway house, why is it so wrong that we participate in the tourism/hospitality industry to earn a bit more?
We started with a basic condo in 2009 and moved up the ladder. This is the opportunity that we want to afford to everyone, yes? AirBnB can help people achieve that. I do believe there is always room for improvement in regulations but an outright ban won’t put much of a dent in affordability issues bit will hurt those that rely on that income to make ends meet.
The situation in your household is not an example of one of the problematic manifestations of air BNB. The original premise of air BNB was to facilitate travellers by synching them up with locals who had a spare ROOM or couch. Air BNB assured everyone that it would filter out anyone who tried to rent self-contained accomodation, citing their recognition of the potential peril of removing rental stock. And look what has happened; you can’t deny this company has allowed and fostered disastrous consequences for people who rent and who don’t, by the way, have families to pool resources with and climb up the property ladder. These people depended on rentals The lucrative potential has caused many to cast away social capital and community values for the sake of ‘buying in’ at all costs. Of course other powerful factors are at play in the property market, but let’s not paint airBnb in a rose-colored light. You really need to look more closely at the horrendous collateral damage it has wrought.
Congratulations Rohana and team! It’s disgusting that the COV fought you guys.
Just as we should do our part collectively in the pandemic, so should we do our part to make sure housing is a human right. It’s not just ‘me’ ‘me’ ‘me.’ We need to think of the city and its citizens as a priority.
You are totally wrong if you think that the short term rental business is the solution for housing crisis, elevated home prices in real estate. There are many other factors that affect to his situation, short term rental is a business for many families and they depend of this income. If you want your 5 minutes of fame look other way my friend.
Thank you for your work. AirBnB must be removed from Vancouver.
I have no sympathy for AirBnB. They’ve destroyed many cities. If people want to run a hotel, run a hotel: licensed, visible presence, criteria on who the clientele are, paying into the tax system.
You are the truly heroes of Vancouver. Let’s keep supporting these people!
If lawyers and politicians want to look elsewhere, we will represent ourselves.
Toronto has thousands of trucks for COVID issues, shouldn’t Vancouver have thousands of people, trucks, bikes, etc around the townhouse to ask a immediate solution for housing?
What exactly do you plan to do with the data? If you release names and addresses that is a form of emotional violence. Women will be unsafe, when they are in fact just trying to cover their rent occasionally. Someone like you should not be in possession of this information.
Thank you for your dedicated work and perseverance!
I am in agreement that Airbnb is a detriment to communities. We live in a massive city with abundance of hotels and legal short term accommodations.
Persons doing short term/nightly rentals, is definitely because it earns more money than yearly rental income. (Plus airbnb insurance protection is pretty good). However, remember your property value appreciation is always increasing and that’s a lot of money also.
For those landlords worried about bad tenants, don’t be a lazy landlord. Do your due diligence, such as reference checks, credit checks,Job references, etc. it’s a lot of work but it’s your duty as a landlord to be successful to get great tenants. I’ve been a landlord for years, I’ve had awesome 10 year tenants & property that has tripled in value over time. If you do the work, it does pay and you can find great long term tenants. Your property value still continues to rise in value with long term rentals. In my early years, I’ve had a couple bad tenants, that cost me $, but lessons learned and I accept that as part of business. If you are renting you are in business and your information should be public.
I no longer have rentals. I now peacefully live in a strata property that only allows six months minimum and longer rentals.
Unfortunately, there are owners doing illegal nightly rentals in my complex. Tenants who have no claims to the property or the community, disrespect the property, disregard the rules and make it uncomfortable for those living in the complex full-time.
The expense from the damage from short term renters is borne by all owners, and only benefit the owners who are illegally renting. So for me, in my complex the Airbnb abuse is frustrating and expensive! The owners know short term rentals are illegal, but only care about the money! They can rent long term, but short term brings in the cash! This type of greed does not build a community. I’m only speaking of my situation and not owners who are legally entitled to rent short term.
As a property owner in Vancouver I would appreciate access to the addresses and names, so I may send this evidence to our property management and my strata council so they may issue the $1000 per night fines to those owners in our complex whom are doing illegal short term rentals!
The Strata bylaws are very clear for our complex, short term rentals are not allowed and these persons should be fined accordingly!
We all have different stories and different circumstances. But we truly need to think of building a community and operating business in a legal manner and in an ethical manner.
Thank you for your good work!
PS; Does Airbnb have a blacklist where Strata’s can list addresses that prohibit short term rentals, so unethical persons can not use their rental platform?
Poorly written article
Where’s the data?